As a strong blow to the Kerala government's decision on relaxing some services like barber shops, book shops, and public transport in selected areas of the state, the Centre government expressed its strong objection, asking the state to reconsider the relaxation order.
The Centre has vehemently disregarded Kerala government's decision calling it a "dilution" of lockdown guidelines for the whole country.
Kerala amends its order
It was in the order released on April 17 that the state government allowed additional activities like opening of barber shops, local workshops, bookstores in areas except the red zones. This measure is seen as a dilution of the consolidated guidelines the Centre released on April 15.
The Home Ministry has asked the state Chief Secretary Tom Jose to reconsider and rectify the order in line with the guidelines issued by the MHA.
In his letter to the state, Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla said "I would like to draw your attention to clause 4(i) and (ii) of these guidelines which mentions that states and union Territories will not dilute the guidelines issued under the disaster management act and shall strictly enforce the same." Quoting the Supreme Court directive, he further added, "Your attention is also drawn to the order of 31.03.2020 in which the supreme court observed -- we trust and expect that state government's will faithfully comply with directives and orders of union of India in letter and spirit in the interest of public safety."
Based on this, by Sunday, 19 April night, the chief secretary came out with a fresh guideline that restricted the relaxation measures.
Hotels can allow parcel services
With the new amendment made in order, barber shops in the state won't be opened. But the barbers and hair dressers can come home for the needed.
Similarly, book stores will also remain shut, while hotels and restaurants can remain open only for the parcel services. People are not allowed to dine in the hotels according to the new amendment.Meanwhile, the online delivery of food and other essential services in the state are allowed till 9pm.
No public transportation services will be available in the state, be it the green or orange zones. Pillion riding on two wheelers is also abandoned. Earlier, the state had permitted relatives to travel on bikes, even without the state's permission seeking letter. Now, under the Centre's objection, only the rider, with the needed documents can travel for essential purposes.
In the initial order by the Kerala state government, MSME industries in municipal areas were let open along with the public transport services like bus in cities/towns allowed for shorter distances (upto 60km), four wheelers with two passengers at the back seats, etc. All these are now called back considering the violation of the MHA Order dated 15 April 2020, issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Kerala flattens the curve
Kerala has been working a commendable job in flattening the curve with more number of patients discharging from the hospitals testing negative for the viral infection and fresh daily cases dropping to the single-digit level.
The government has classified two districts, Kottayam and ldukki, in the green zone; while Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kollam, districts under Orange A zone and Alappuzha, Trivandrum, Palakkad, Wayanad and Thrissur as Orange B.
Kasargod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Malappuram districts cover the Red Zone areas.