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Monday at work? Safety Measures After Ease in Lockdown on April 20

Expert recommends temperature monitoring, age-based workforce to stay safe at work from April 20
 Twenty-seven days into the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown, the government has provided a sign of respite for the working public. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced on Twitter that the government would allow limited workplaces in non-containment areas to begin essential work.

From Monday, April 20, India would allow work at banks, financial services, government offices, health facilities and specific offices and commercial institutions. Agricultural activities, horticultural, animal rearing, fishing, plantation work and specific MGNREGA projects would also take place. Limited construction activity (where no workers need to come in from outside) would occur too. Self-employed professionals (like electricians, plumbers, etc.) could move around for work, while goods cargo services would also begin movement.

In the wake of this move, indoor air quality expert Mansoor Ali has cautiously welcomed the government’s move, though he has requested for stricter norms to ensure it does not lead to a spurt in COVID-19 cases. “The lockdown has helped slow down the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, not stop it. We have to be very cautious before we open the economy”, he said.

Ali, the founder of AMFAH India, had submitted his Coronvirus reports and findings to the Maharashtra health ministry in the early days of the lockdown. These reports included guidelines to ease restrictions post-lockdown. These were two steps for workers and two for employers, which can keep everyone safe from the disease.

“Workers need to ensure two things daily to keep themselves as safe as possible from the coronavirus outbreak. I strongly recommend temperature monitoring for each individual at all workplaces. I also recommend allowing the fittest age group (18+ to 58) to be allowed outside right now.”

“Check your temperature and age before you step out of your homes. Every person should check the temperature either in their colony or at their nearest health centre. Ideally, this should be printed on a valid pass before they leave their homes. Second, workers who’re above 59 years of age should not go as they have lower immunity than others”, he added.

For employers, Ali has shared two comprehensive steps. “Employers and organisations from the informal sector to corporates, need to put policies in place to guide their employees through safety measures. Create a basic hygiene and social distance strategy, communicate it across the workplace and ensure that everyone adheres to it. They should also check and maintain indoor air quality, especially if this air is being re-circulated through their plant. With poor air quality, even a single infected person can spread the disease to the rest of your staff”.

Many international research reports have confirmed these steps and are recommending them to countries who are setting up measures again.

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