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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Confusion in Kerala over relaxations, new hotspots

A high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan apparently decided to rollback the move. Though restaurants in green zones like Kottayam and Idukki were earlier given permission to allow dine-in facilities, that decision has been withdrawn too.

Written by Vishnu Varma | Kochi | Updated: April 20, 2020 6:38:46 pm
Traffic in Thiruvananthapuram after some lockdown restrictions were eased in Kerala on Monday. (PTI)

Confusion prevailed among the public in some areas of Kerala, including state capital Thiruvananthapuram, Monday in the absence of clarity over the state government’s guidelines for relaxations in some districts and continued restrictions in hotspot areas.

According to the blueprint drawn up by the state government last week, the 14 districts were to be classified as red, orange A, orange B and green zones depending on the number of active infections as well as people in home quarantine. Follow LIVE Updates

The northern Kerala districts of Kasaragod, Kannur, Malappuram and Kozhikode, which contribute a lion’s share of the active infections, are under red zone where curfew will continue until May 3.

Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta and Kollam fall under orange-A category where relaxations in certain sectors will begin to be implemented from April 24. Alappuzha, Thrissur, Palakkad, Thiruvananthapuram and Wayanad were put under orange-B category where certain relaxations begin today. Finally, Kottayam and Idukki, with no infections over the last seven days, are under green zone, where more relaxations are allowed.

Kerala coronavirus, coronavirus in Kerala, Kerala Covid-19, Kerala coronavirus Covid-19 curve, Kerala healthcare Coronavirus, Coronavirus Kerala news, Kerala covid-19 news People outside a mobile showroom in Kochi. (PTI)

But making this system more complicated, the health department late Sunday night announced 88 hotspots, categorised as panchayats, municipalities and corporations, within these districts based on active cases and their primary and secondary contacts where lockdown relaxations will not apply.

For example, while Thiruvananthapuram district has certain relaxations starting Monday, strict curfew will continue within limits of Thiruvananthapuram corporation, Varkala municipality and Malayinkeezh panchayat. Similarly, while Idukki is free of active Covid-19 cases, there are five panchayats and a municipality categorised as hotspots.

In the early hours of Monday morning in the state capital, hundreds of people, in private vehicles, were seen making their way to the city, under the impression that there is relaxation in curfew. However, with large parts of the city under corporation limits classified as a hotspot, police had a tough time in sending people back to their homes.

There is also an odd-even policy being implemented where vehicles with odd-number registration plates allowed to ply on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and even-numbered registration plates on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

After the Home Ministry sent a stern letter to the state chief secretary spelling its displeasure regarding the relaxations the state is allowing, Kerala has begun to rollback some of the measures, such as the opening of barber shops on the weekends.

A high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan apparently decided to rollback the move. Though restaurants in green zones like Kottayam and Idukki were earlier given permission to allow dine-in facilities, that decision has been withdrawn too. Restaurants can only allow delivery of food. Similarly, two people will not be allowed to commute on a two-wheeler as earlier announced.

Despite relaxations in green and orange B category districts starting Monday, there is a ban on mass gatherings of all kinds. Schools, colleges, movie halls, religious places, swimming pools, gyms and parks will not be allowed to reopen. The public has been advised to adhere to social distancing norms even if they are outside for essential travel.

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