Lockdown 2.0: Kerala govt rolls back relaxations amid Covid-19 outbreak

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a press conference on Monday, said there was no tussle between the Centre and the State.
The Kerala government on Monday revoked some relaxations it had provided under its revised guidelines for the lockdown. The move comes after the Centre chided it for diluting guidelines provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

In a letter to the state government on April 19, the Centre took objection to the move to allow the opening of certain activities prohibited by the MHA in its revised guidelines.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a press conference on Monday, said there was no tussle between the Centre and the State.

“I have already clarified that the state will implement things in line with the guidelines issued by the Centre. Some measures will be implemented after attaining the Central government’s approval. There might be some difference, depending on the peculiar nature of our state. The red zones announced by us are different from what the MHA, and are based on local experience. It is not something that will create a tussle or dispute. Naturally, the Centre will also understand this, and it will be approved,” he told reporters on Monday.

He added that restaurants would not be allowed to carry out dine-in services at present, though takeaway would be allowed. Sources from the Chief Minister’s Office said the state had informed of the changes it had to make in the guidelines, based on the state-specific scenario. However, it seems the Centre had objections. State Chief Secretary Tom Jose had earlier said the government would address any confusion relating to guidelines.

The Centre had criticised the move to allow the opening of barber shops, restaurants, book stores, and micro small and medium enterprises in municipal limits, among others. It had also expressed its displeasure regarding allowing bus travel in cities and towns for short distances, two passengers in back seats of cars, and pillion riding on two-wheelers.

Kerala on Monday eased restrictions in seven out of the 14 districts not identified as hotspots. The state had classified its districts into four zones, based on the infection rate. These relaxations were provided in full measures in Kottayam and Idukki — which are free of Covid-19 — and partial relaxations were given in Alappuzha, Palakkad, Thiruvananthapuram, and Wayanad, except in micro-hotspots in these districts. 

Some confusion persisted on Monday, as there was vehicular movement from non-hotspots to hotspots. Thiruvananthapuram on Monday saw vehicles coming from its suburbs (which are not hotspots) to the main city (which is a micro-hotspot).

The MHA’s letter further stated that the State government should immediately rectify the guidelines in line with the consolidated revised guidelines of the Centre, to ensure strict compliance of the lockdown.

 Earlier, the Centre had provided guidelines for staggered opening of economic activity. In its guidelines, the home ministry had said states should take necessary precautions regarding social distancing, and the activities should be operationalised with strict compliance to lockdown guidelines.

Further, these revised guidelines would not be applicable in areas demarcated as containment zones by the state or district administrations. The MHA had also said that if any new area was added to the list of containment zones, the relaxed guidelines would be suspended until further notice.


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