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Monday, 10 May 2021 3.27 AM IST

Amid surge in COVID-19 cases, Kerala govt issues new guidelines till April 30

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Amid a massive surge in coronavirus cases, the Kerala government on Tuesday issued new guidelines for COVID-19 surveillance, containment and caution that will be in effect up to the end of this month. The number of attendees has been capped at 100 for indoor gatherings and at 200 for outdoor functions. Shops in the state are only allowed to remain open till 9 pm, and malls and theatres have been asked to restrict occupancy.

The new restrictions as per the order issued "to control a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases" said that only a maximum of 100 persons are permitted to gather in case of indoor meetings or programs and a maximum of 200 persons in case of outdoor functions. The order that it shall be applicable for all programs including marriages, funerals, festivals, sports, arts and cultural events, states that "if more than the above number is required to participate, then the organisers shall have a system of passes for the event where only persons who have tested negative for COVID-19 through RTPCR or Saliva Test in the last 72 hours and certified or individuals with a certificate of at least first vaccination will attend."

"No program shall ordinarily be conducted beyond two hours so as to regulate the number of participants," the order stated adding that "all programs where food is served should provide for takeaways as far as possible" in order to avoid removal of masks during such gatherings. The state government stipulated that shops should close by 9 pm every day and door delivery should be promoted as far as possible, adding that "the Collectors may call a meeting of the organisations of shops and establishments for participatory and concerted action in this regard".

"Crowding must be controlled effectively. Meetings should be held online as far as possible. E-Sanjeevani (telemedicine) of the Health Department should be popularised so that crowding in OP wards is avoided. Specialist consultation may also be popularized through E-Sanjeevani. Fifty per cent rule should be strictly adhered to in cinemas, hotels and restaurants," the government informed. "Mega sales or shopping festivals shall be postponed for two weeks or till the COVID-19 situation improves. Hotels and restaurants should promote takeaways and home delivery instead of in-house dining as people tend to crowd in such public dining settings and remove their masks. Covid protocol should be followed inside the premises," the order said

"Religious leaders and district authorities may persuade to avoid community gatherings (Iftar parties) when customary fasting is broken during evenings in the month of Ramzan," it said. "Buses meant for public transport should not allow standing passengers. Buses should not take - in passengers beyond the seating capacity. The Motor Vehicle Department shall take steps to ensure the same," it added.

The government, in its guidelines, has asked places with centralised air conditioning systems (eg malls, theaters and auditoriums)" to restrict occupancy and strictly ensure COVID-19 protocol and thermal scanning of entrants. "In local bodies having high Test Positivity Rate (TPR), the District Magistrates may impose additional restrictions under section 144 CrPC based on evidence with focus. The restrictions should help in the containment of COVID 19," the order said while also asking Civil Supplies Corporation, HortiCorp, KEPCO, Matsyafed, MILMA and other such government organisations to have a unified online or mobile platform for taking orders and enabling home delivery of items ordered.

The government also informed that there shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods including those for cross-land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries, adding that no separate permission will be required for such movements.

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