coronavirus, COVID-19, coronavirus shutdown, Coronavirus outbreak, Lockdown, Harsh Vardhan
The Union Home Ministry said the state government on April 17 has circulated revised guidelines for lockdown measures. Photo: PTI

After MHA calls out Kerala, state denies dilution of lockdown guidelines

The Kerala government on Monday (April 20) said there was some “misunderstanding”, due to which the Centre had objected to dilutionof the lockdown protocol after the state had allowed the opening of restaurants and MSME industries in municipal areas among others.

The Union Home Ministry has taken strong objection to Kerala government’s decision to allow the opening of restaurants, bus travel in cities and opening of MSME industries in municipal areas, saying it amounts to dilution of its lockdown guidelines.

In a letter to the Kerala government, the Home Ministry said the state government on April 17 has circulated revised guidelines for lockdown measures which allowed the opening of activities which are prohibited in the Centres consolidated revised guidelines issued on April 15.

State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran denied there was a dilution of the lockdown guidelines.

“We have given relaxations in accordance with the Centres guidelines. I think there is some misunderstanding, based on which the Centre has sought an explanation. Once we give an explanation, it will all be sorted out. The Centre and the state have the same stand with regard to fight the pandemic. There is no contradiction in the stand taken. It’s just a misunderstanding we will clear it,” Surendran told media persons.

He also said the lockdown and easing the protocol was a new thing for the state and the country and the state government will clear the doubts in a few hours.

The additional activities allowed by the government of Kerala, include the opening of local workshops, barbershops, restaurants, book stores, MSMEs in municipal limits, bus travel in cities and towns for a shorter distance, two passengers in the back seat of four-wheelers and pillion riding on scooters.

Hundreds ventured into the streets on Monday after the state government diluted the lockdown protocol. This amounts to dilution of guidelines issued by the Home ministry and violation of its April 15 order issued under the Disaster Management Act 2005, the Home Ministry said.

The Kerala government has announced the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in two zones, allowing among others private vehicles movement in an odd-even basis and dine-in services at hotels from Monday.

The Left government had colour-coded 14 districts of the state into four zones — Red, Green, Orange-A, and Orange-B, for containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Four-wheelers are permitted to carry two passengers besides the driver and in case of a two-wheeler, only the driver will be allowed while the pillion rider is allowed in case the person is a family member.

On dine-in services, a government order said it is allowed at hotels and restaurants until 7 pm in Green and Orange-B zone from Monday and in Orange-A zone from April 24.

However, take-away counters can function until 8 PM, the state government had said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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