Centre demands explanation from Kerala government for ‘diluting lockdown norms’
The letter by the Centre informed the Kerala government that allowing operation of certain businesses amounts to dilution of guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and violation of MHA order dated April 15.
After finding the state's COVID 19 infection rate lessened each day the government of Kerala had allowed opening of activities which were prohibited by the Centre. Those restrictions were announced by the Central government when it announced a country-wide lockdown for COVID-19 on March 25. The state chief secretary Tom Jose received a direct letter from the Union Home Ministry today intimating him of the lapse and demanding an explanation from the state.
"Such additional activities allowed by GoK, inter alia, includes opening of local workshops; barber shops; restaurants; book stores; MSMEs in municipal limits; bus travel in the cities / towns for shorter distance (upto 60 km); two passengers in the back seat of four wheeler; pillion riding on scooters," said the letter. The letter also informed the Kerala government that such an action of allowing the operation of the aforementioned businesses amounts to dilution of guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and violation of MHA order dated April 15.
The disagreement has reference to the revised guidelines issued by Kerala on April 17. The order mentions that barber shops can open on Saturday and Sunday without AC, with only two people allowed to wait a time. It also allows the operation of restaurants in Orange and Yellow zones until 7 pm. The state has been divided into four zones according to severity of infections noted.
The new relaxations which come into effect starting April 20 also allows two passengers in the back seat of cars and pillion riders in cases where they are relatives. The government also planned to start short distance bus travel within non-hotspot locations.
However, the letter from MHA says Kerala government is not entitled to dilute these guidelines under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 in any manner.
However, Kerala chief secretary Tom Jose said that all the decisions were taken after consulting the Centre only. Kerala later retracted some of the relaxations it allowed to the firms including barber shops and restaurants.