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What are the changes that we see following COVID-19 guidelines?

Among the guidelines for COVID-19 management issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on 15th April 2020 are:

  1. Face covers are to be worn at all times at work or public spaces
  2. Those found spitting in public spaces will be fined
  3. All workplaces will have to screen employees for temperature and ensure social distancing.

Overarchingly, the guidelines emphasise:

  1. The need for sanitation
  2. Temperature checks, and
  3. Social distancing.
  • The guidelines also make it mandatory for workers to have medical insurance.
  • Work spaces must also ensure staggered lunch breaks, a one-hour gap between shifts and carry out sanitisation between shifts.
  • Persons above 65 years of age and persons with co-morbidities and parents of children below the age of 5 may be encouraged to work from home.
  • For manufacturing establishments, the guidelines mandate hand washing and “frequent cleaning” of common surfaces.
  • The guidelines also say that hospitals or clinics, which are authorised to treat COVID-19 in nearby areas should be identified, and lists should be made available at all times.
  • As part of the SOP for offices, workplaces and factories, the guidelines prohibit large meetings, and say anyone entering or exiting the work place must undergo thermal scanning.

Enforcement of these guidelines

The guidelines will be enforced by district magistrates across the country through fines and penal action under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

  • While specific states have taken some of these measures, such as mandating the use of masks and a ban on spitting in public, these guidelines now mean that the rules apply nationwide, with legal enforcement under the Disaster Management Act.

What effect might it have on people in the future beyond the pandemic?

  • General hygiene practices like washing hands will be increased.
  • People will have higher inclination to get proper treatment from qualified doctors.
  • Spitting tobacco and other such unhealthy actions can be reduced.
  • General understanding of how diseases spread will help build on scientific temper of people and may reduce dependence on superstitious beliefs.
December 2023