Centre issues ‘SOPs on preventive measures to contain spread of COVID-19 in offices’

Employees living in containment zones should continue to work from home till their zones are denotified.

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As per the standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by the Centre for offices, employees who live in a COVID-19 containment zone should be permitted to work from home and not attend office till such time that the zone is declared safe. According to the Health Ministry, these work-from-home days shall not be counted as leave. Such employees should also inform their workplaces and ensure they stay away from their offices until their zone is denotified.

All offices in the containment zones will remain shut, unless and until they are providing essential or medical services. The Ministry has ordered that sanitiser dispensers be made available to ensure hand hygiene and provisions for thermal screening of employees entering the offices be put in place as a safety measure. Also, it has been directed that only asymptomatic staff and visitors should be allowed to enter workplaces.

Those over the age of 65, pregnant women and those suffering from illnesses or special conditions have been mandated to remain at home. In case they require to step out for health-related issues or for essentials, their workplaces should facilitate their doing so.

No officer or staff member will be allowed to enter the workplace without a face cover or mask, which they should wear at all times within the office premises.

The Ministry has also stated that unless and until a large outbreak is established, there is no need to seal the entire office building. If one or two COVID-positive cases are discovered in a building, work may be resumed after the building is disinfected as per the protocols laid down for the purpose. In case of an outbreak of bigger proportions, the building will have to be thoroughly disinfected and cannot be re-occupied till it is declared fit for the same.

While shopping malls outside the containment zones will reopen from June 8, cinema halls, gaming arcades and children’s play areas within these establishments will remain shut.

Thermal screening of visitors will be mandatory at the entrance and only those wearing masks will be let inside. Malls will have to station required manpower to ensure social distancing. Employees who fall in the high-risk category, including pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions should be asked to stay home, and should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public.

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