From Krishnan Nayar NEW DELHI, 30th September, 2020 (WAM) – Business to Business, B2B, exhibitions will resume in India from 15th October as part of unlocking the economy, six months after they were prohibited following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Commerce has been asked to draw up standard operating procedures for such exhibitions, India’s Home Ministry announced tonight in new guidelines for further relaxations in normal life from tomorrow. The guidelines cover "Unlock-5" or the fifth phase of unlocking the lockdown which was imposed in March when Coronavirus became a pandemic. The opening of business exhibitions will be welcomed by commercial entities abroad whose stakes in the huge Indian market were affected by COVID-19. Indian businesses have been urging the government to gradually relax restrictions on business activities without compromising on public safety. The ban on regular, scheduled incoming and outgoing international flights will continue. "International air travel of passengers, except as sanctioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs, shall not be permitted," according to the new guidelines. Cinemas and theatres will also be permitted to reopen from 15th October but only 50 per cent of their seating capacity will be allowed to be filled. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will issue standard operating procedures for their reopening. Swimming pools will continue to be closed for the general public but can be used for training of sportspersons from mid-October. Entertainment parks and similar places will be permitted to open under strict guidelines from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. State governments have been given the flexibility to decide on the reopening of schools in a graded manner from 15th October. "Online and distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged," said the new guidelines. "Attendance must not be enforced and must depend entirely on parental consent." Higher educational institutions only for research scholars and post-graduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/ experimental works will be permitted to open from 15th October. Social, academic, sports, cultural, religious and political functions, which were hitherto permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons, can now take place with more attendance. "In closed spaces, a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 200 persons. Wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitizers will be mandatory."