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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: In the wake of Coronavirus outbreak, Odisha Government extended the timings of its subsidised canteens - Aahaar centres - across the state from 10 AM to 4 PM until further orders to prevent movement of crowd & decongest the centres.

In a letter addressed to all Collectors, Municipal Commissioners & all Executive Officers of Municipalities and NACs today, G. Mathivathanan, Principal Secretary of State Housing & Urban Development Department, instructed to regulate the services in Aahaar centres in view Covid-19.

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As per the new guidelines issued, Aahaar centres across the state will have to remain open from 10 AM to 4 PM to serve food during the epidemic, so that the congestion could be eased and the movement of the crowd at the centres could be slowed down substantially.

To ensure social distancing norms amid Covid-19 outbreak are followed, people visiting the Aahaar centres would be made to come in queues and maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres. In case of any untoward incident and unruly behaviour by the crowd, the letter has expressly instructed the Aahaar centres to solicit the help of policemen or home guards present nearby.

It has widely been accepted that washing hands regularly goes a long way in limiting the spread of Coronavirus infection in the community. So the Aahaar centres have been duly instructed to place hand wash systems outside the building with soaps and liquid soaps so that people can enter into the centre after washing their hands thoroughly.

It has also been advised in the letter to install temporary hand washing kiosks that are usually used during wedding parties and other social functions so that the public can easily wash and disperse off after taking the food without congesting the washing area.

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In an attempt to minimise physical contact between the Aahaar centre personnel and the public, the letter also instructs authorities to install drop boxes at the coupon counters so that the public can drop off their money in the box without touching anybody. The public should also be encouraged to carry their food outside of the centre in order to ease the congestion inside building, the letter read.

The employees at the Aahaar centres have been further instructed to provide adequate drinking water facilities outside the hall to help decongest the crowd. Besides, regular cleaning and sanitising using disinfectants should be done by the staff to ward off any possibility of Coronavirus infection.

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