COVID-19 lockdown: Kerala rolls back some relaxations, CM says no conflict with Centre’s road map

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Published: April 21, 2020 12:01 AM

According to the new order, barber shops and dine-in restaurants would not be allowed, though there would be no restrictions on the barber visiting the customer at his home, or take-aways from restaurants.

Meanwhile, after receiving the letter from Centre, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Kerala is making its way back to life. (File image)The state government believes that the Centre might have had misunderstood Kerala’s plan. (File image)

The Kerala government on Monday rolled back easing of certain COVID-19-related curbs in select zones, after the state chief secretary received a letter from the Union home ministry, expressing concerns over the relaxations. The letter also said relaxations amounted to dilution of the Centre’s lockdown guidelines as well as an observation of the Supreme Court.

Following this, the earlier decision to allow barber shops and dine-in restaurants to reopen in non-hotspots has been withdrawn.

We are discussing what can be done. If needed, necessary modifications will be made,” Kerala chief secretary Tom Jose had earlier told mediapersons.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said there is no possibility of a friction with the Centre regarding lockdown guidelines. The state is abiding by the Centre’s directions in the right earnest. If there are some state-specific alterations needed in select areas, that will be implemented in coordination with the Centre and with its consent, Vijayan said.

The letter from Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla, written on April 19, said the decision to allow the relaxations “amounted to dilution of guidelines issued by the Home Ministry and violation of its April 15 order issued under the Disaster Management Act 2005”.

The state government believes that the Centre might have had misunderstood Kerala’s plan. “There is no dilution of lockdown guidelines from Kerala’s side. We will give an explanation, sorting out the misunderstanding,” state tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said.

According to the new order, barber shops and dine-in restaurants would not be allowed, though there would be no restrictions on the barber visiting the customer at his home, or take-aways from restaurants. The state government has also rolled back its decision to allow persons pillion riding on two-wheelers if riders are close kin.

After receiving the letter from the Centre, Vijayan said in a tweet: “From today on, some areas will see relaxations. We are not past the danger and must remain cautious. The lockdown must have made some of our life skills rusty; take extra precaution. Wash hands. Wear masks. Social Distancing.”

Only four north Kerala districts – Kasargod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Malappuram – are in the red zone. In the rest of the state, hospitals, pharmacies, shops selling agriculture, pisciculture and plantation products are allowed. So are construction activities and financial institutions, though subject to social distancing rules.

At the same time, large gatherings are not permitted even in the orange and green zones.

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