Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday presented a plan for a phased relaxation of lockdown in the State, in consonance with the Central guidelines.

"The state government will abide by the general guidelines announced by the Central government while extending the lockdown till May 3. We will seek approval from the Centre for grouping of districts based on the number of active/positive cases and allowing certain exemptions in these places," the chief minister said while addressing a press conference at the government secretariat.

However, all common restrictions applicable to pan India will continue in Kerala, he added. 

CM Vijayan also announced that the state would need Central approval to exempt certain districts from the hotspot list declared by the Centre. All the districts in the state have been grouped into four zones based on the number of active/positive cases being reported. 

Zone I with higher restriction: Kasargod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Malappuram

The state government is of the opinion that these four districts with the maximum number of positive cases - Kasargod (61), Kannur (45), Kozhikode (9) and Malappuram (9) be classified as one zone. Full lockdown will continue in these places till May 3. Hotspots within these districts would be identified and these villages/areas with maximum cases would be quarantined with maximum restrictions in place.

Zone II with partial exemptions: Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kollam

As the number of positive cases are less in these districts, some exemptions will be allowed after April 24. However, full restrictions/lockdown would be in place till April 24. Hotspot areas within these districts would be identified and quarantined. 

 Zone III with partial relaxations: Alappuzha, Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad, Thrissur and Wayanad

With minimum cases now, a partial relaxation of the lockdown restrictions will be allowed in these districts after April 20 along with total sealing of hotspot areas. Shops and restaurants (only parcel) would be allowed to be open till 7 pm.

Zone IV with minimum restrictions: Kottayam and Idukki Districts

With no positive cases now, these two districts would have minimum restrictions and local travel is planned to be allowed. Use of masks will be compulsory along with the use of sanitisers and hand washing.

“However, general restrictions like inter-state and inter-district travel will not be allowed during this lockdown period and would be applicable across the state. Restrictions on public transport and closure of education and training institutes, religious places, cinema theatres and places of public gathering would continue to be in place. I hope these exemptions would help the people to continue their normal life.” the chief minister added.

Vijayan also announced plans for phased opening up of the construction sector, traditional sectors like coir, cashew, beedi and handicrafts; agriculture sector, food processing units, plantation sector, and cooperative institutions, among others.

Health and social justice minister K K Shailaja, revenue minister E Chandrasekharan and chief secretary Tom Jose were also present during the media briefing.