WITH A sustained decline in both Covid cases and the positivity rate, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Friday decided to ease restrictions further, allowing schools, higher educational institutions, coaching institutes, gyms, spas and swimming pools to reopen in a phased manner starting February 7.
Schools will reopen for classes 9 to 12, albeit in a “hybrid mode”, from Monday, and for nursery to class 8 from February 14. Hybrid mode essentially means students have the option of attending physical or online classes. Significantly, the 50 per cent cap on students in classrooms has been done away with.
DDMA has, however, directed all schools/ colleges/ institutes to take into account their available space and infrastructure facilities to ensure compliance of Covid appropriate behaviour. It has also directed schools to take the consent of parents before calling students.
“Several restrictions were lifted at the D eeting held today, and with this, the livelihood of people will now be back on track. Schools for classes 9 to 12 will reopen from Monday,” said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia after the meeting, adding that if cases continue to decline, they will look at doing away with the hybrid mode and resuming only physical classes.
“Schools for nursery to class 8 will be reopened from February 14. Till then, all schools will make arrangements and implement Covid protocol for reopening. Teachers who are unvaccinated will not be permitted in schools,” he said.
The Delhi government has also directed all higher educational institutions under it to return to offline classes completely, and stop online classes .
“All higher educational institutions, colleges, ITIs, polytechnic and skill institutes will open from Monday and will only hold offline classes. Students have been studying online for the last two years and batches have passed without even seeing their college due to Covid. Now, as cases are declining, higher institutions and colleges should discourage online classes and take only physical classes,” said Sisodia.
Delhi University, a central varsity, is yet to take a call on reopening.
Schools have been directed to make all efforts to encourage eligible students to get vaccinated. All the concerned authorities have been asked to regularly monitor the health of students.
The DDMA, at its meeting, also allowed restaurants, bars and other eateries to remain open till 11 pm instead of 10 pm. Night curfew in the city will continue, but will now start from 11 pm instead of 10 pm, and be in place till 5 am.
The DDMA has also allowed all government and private offices to function with 100 per cent attendance. Private offices are, however, advised to follow work from home as far as possible.
Sources said the issue of exempting people from wearing masks while travelling alone in a vehicle was discussed at the meeting, but the DDMA did not mention it in its order.
“A decision on wearing masks inside vehicles cannot be taken by the DDMA alone, because this is a central-level transportation order, implemented in all states. The decision will be taken by the NDMA,” said a senior official.
The DDMA also advised the health and revenue departments to enhance vaccination in the 15-18 years age group.
On Friday, the national capital recorded 2,272 new cases, 20 deaths and a positivity rate of 3.85 per cent.