Government employees working in the centre’s administrative reforms department will be required to wear not just face masks but face shields too to work and will face disciplinary action if they don’t. The guidelines were issued by the centre after an increasing number of coronavirus cases were reported from central government ministries and departments.
“The number of COVID cases are going up rapidly. Many officials in various central government ministries and departments have tested positive. Some have lost life also, therefore one needs to protect themselves (sic),” the government order states.
The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievance has asked only asymptomatic staff or those without symptoms of coronavirus to come to the office.
“All those with mild cold, cough or fever should stay home,” the order states.
Employees living in containment zones have been asked to mandatorily work from home.
The circular, issued on June 5, said not more than 20 officers and staff members of the administrative reforms department should attend office in a day and that the duty chart for staff should be made accordingly.
Employees sharing a cabin should come to office on alternate days and as far as possible, windows in the office should be kept open, the circular further said.
Among the other rules for the employees of the department are:
- Face masks and face shields to be worn at all times inside the office. Disciplinary action will be taken if this is not followed.
- Used face masks and gloves should be discarded in bio-medical waste bin only. Strict action will be taken for throwing gloves and masks in the open.
- Face-to-face meetings, discussions and interactions to be avoided as far as possible. The staff should use intercom, phone or video-conferencing for these purposes.
- Hand washing every half an hour is a must to prevent spread of the infection. Hand sanitisers must be installed at prominent places in corridors.
- Frequently touched places like switches, door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, etc, should be cleaned every hour.
- The staff members have also been asked to clean personal equipment such as keyboards, mouse, phone and AC remotes by themselves using an ethanol-based disinfectant frequently.
- A distance of one metre should be maintained while sitting or walking. Visitors’ chairs in the cabins of the offices are to be placed accordingly, keeping the norms of social distancing.
The North Block of the Secretariat has reported four cases of coronavirus in the last few days.
“One officer in the control room was diagnosed and a few lower-level, support staff also tested positive,” an officer in the North Block said.
Earlier, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had asked all government employees to strictly adhere to the practices of social distancing norms and health and hygiene practices to contain the spread of COVID-19 in workplace settings.
It directed all ministries, departments, offices as well as central government employees to ensure strict compliance of the instructions issued by the department as well as those by the Union Home and Health Ministries.
On June 4, the Health Ministry released an SOP on preventive measures to contain the spread of the virus in workplaces. Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of six feet in public places as far as possible, the guidelines said.
The SOP also stated stated that all drivers of government vehicles are to maintain social distancing and should follow the dos and don’ts to avoid being infected. There must be a provision for disinfection of the interior of the vehicle, the guidelines said.
Respiratory etiquettes, which involve the strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, are to be maintained. All employees were also asked to install and use the Aarogya Setu app.