Thiruvananthapuram: Shops remained shut and vehicles were off the roads in Kerala as the state government's order on total shutdown on Sundays came into force since morning as part of the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Left government had on Saturday night issued an order on "total shutdown across the state on Sundays" while exempting shops selling essential items and essential services.

While CM Pinarayi Vijayan, had said on Friday that Kerala had "flattened the curve" after the state registered cases in single digits, two new cases-- expatriates who had returned to the state from Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Saturday, had tested positive, causing concern as over four lakh people had registered with the NORKA portal wanting to return to the state.

Roads remained empty across the state and shops were closed, except those selling essentials, including milk and medicines.

Hospitals, labs and media among others will be permitted to function on Sundays.

With a view to prevent the spread of COVID-19, improve the quality of life, reduce carbon emissions, protect the environment and greenery of the state, the Standard Operating Protocols (SOPs) for lockdown would be observed on Sundays across the state, the order by chief secretary Tom Jose said.

"Sundays will be observed as total shutdown days until further orders," it said.

The order permits the functioning of departments, agencies and activities connected with the containment of COVID-19, movement of goods vehicles, agencies in the field of waste disposal, take away counters of hotels can remain open from 8 am to 9 pm, and online delivery platform till 10 pm.

"Movement of persons on Sundays are allowed only for health emergencies, government servants on emergency duties and persons engaged in activities connected with COVID-19 containment, persons involved in the activities exempted in the order, priests and other religious persons responsible for conducting rituals in worship places," the order said.

Movement of persons, in case of any exigencies, will be allowed only with the travel passes obtained from District Collector or police authorities concerned, the order stated adding certain major roads of Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode will also remain closed on Sundays.