School bells chimed in Kerala for the first time in nine months as classes for the 10th and 12th standards began on New Year’s Day. And although the state continues to report high Covid-19 case numbers, it has now allowed movie theatres to run shows, places of worship to conduct festivals and sports training programmes to resume from Tuesday.
Since the beginning of the academic year in June, the state has been live-streaming classes for students from classes one to 12. The government decided to open schools for classes 10 and 12 as their boards are coming up in March.
All students went through temperature checks upon reaching the school. Only 12 students were allowed to sit in a classroom—while maintaining social distance. Students and teachers were told to sanitize their hands after every class and wash their hands before entering classrooms.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said theatres and places of worship hosting festivals would be allowed to run while following Covid-19 protocol. He told reporters that thousands of people associated with the film industry have been in crisis for the last ten months. “The decision was taken for protecting the livelihood of people. Only 50 per cent of the seating capacity would be allowed in theatres,” he said.
On festivals and cultural programmes in places of worship, the CM said: “Sectorial magistrates (revenue officials) will ensure compliance with the protocol. For indoor events, 100 persons will be allowed. For outdoor, 200 will be allowed,” he said. Besides sports training programmes, the government has also permitted exhibitions from January 5.
The government’s decision to reopen theatres came on a day actor Mohanlal announced the release of his movie Drishyam 2 on the Amazon Prime Video. The decision evoked strong criticism from the state’s film industry.
Kerala has been reporting the highest number of daily cases in the country for some days now. In the last 24 hours, it saw 5,215 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking its active cases beyond the 65,000 mark. Its active caseload is at 9 per cent of total reported cases, as against the all-India figure of 2.47 per cent. With 7.65 lakh cases, Kerala is now fifth among states in terms of total cases.
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