The Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday issued guidelines for the fifth phase of “unlock”, allowing cinema halls to reopen at 50% capacity, and permitting states to take a call on opening of schools from October 15. Besides this, swimming pools used for training of sportspersons will also be allowed to reopen from the same date.

The government also eased restrictions on public gatherings and said states can now allow social, cultural and religious congregations of more than 100 people. “In closed spaces, a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 200 persons,” the home ministry said. “Wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitizer will be mandatory.”

Meanwhile, the government extended the lockdown in containment zones till the end of the month. State governments are not permitted from imposing any localised lockdown at the state, district, sub-division, city or village level, outside the containment zones without consulting the Centre, the home ministry said.

It said that international travel, except as permitted by the Centre, will continue to remain suspended and entertainment parks would also remain closed.


On the reopening of schools, the guidelines said: “For re-opening of schools and coaching institutions, State/ UT Governments have been given the flexibility to take a decision after 15th October 2020, in a graded manner.”

The decision for this will be taken in consultation with the respective school/institution management.

The home ministry added that online/distance learning continues to be the preferred mode of teaching and should be encouraged. “Where schools are conducting online classes, and some students prefer to attend online classes rather than physically attend school, they may be permitted to do so,” it added.

However, the government said attendance would not be compulsory and students would only be allowed to attend school with the consent of their parents.

  • States /UTs will prepare their own SOP regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools/ institutions based on the SOP to be issued by Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education, Government of India, keeping local requirements in view.
  • Schools, which are allowed to open, will have to mandatorily follow the SOP to be issued by Education Departments of States/ UTs.

— Ministry of Home Affairs

However, higher education institutions will be allowed to open from October 15 only for research scholars (PhD) and post-graduate students in science and technology, who need it for laboratory and experimental work.

For centrally funded higher education institutions, the head of institution will satisfy herself/himself that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars (PhD) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream for laboratory/experimental works. 

For all other Higher Education Institutions e.g. State Universities, Private Universities etc., they may open only for research scholars (Ph.D) and postgraduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/experimental works as per decision to be taken by the respective State/UT Governments.  

— Ministry of Home Affairs

Earlier this month, the Centre had allowed schools to partially reopen on a voluntary basis for Classes 9 to 12 from September 21. Under the rules, students are allowed to visit their schools if they want, in order to clear their doubts from teachers.

A complete lockdown in India was first imposed from March 25 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. It has been relaxed considerably over the past four months and the Centre has given permission for many economic activities to resume.

In the fourth phase of the calibrated exit strategy, the government had allowed the resumption of Metro services from September 7 in a graded manner. The Centre had also relaxed travel restrictions and said inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods will not be prohibited now. No separate permission or approval or e-permit is now required for such movements.

India’s coronavirus count rose to 62,25,763 after 80,472 cases were reported on Wednesday morning. The country’s toll went up by 1,179 to 97,497. India’s recovery rate is 83.01%, while the death rate stood at 1.57%.

Follow today’s updates on the pandemic here