As the 21-day national lockdown was drawing to a close, the state government had submitted a proposal to the Centre that divided Kerala into four zones — Red, Orange A, Orange B and Green — and restrictions eased in three of these zones in a phased manner. There will be no easing up in the red zone. The Centre accepted Kerala’s proposal on Friday. For the past seven days, the number of positive cases in the state was confined to single digit and the recovery rate has climbed steadily.
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From Monday, near-normal life will be back in two districts — Kottayam and Idukki — classified as green zones because they currently have no active cases. Several restrictions will be lifted in Orange B zone districts — Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad — too from Monday.
Dine-in restaurants can function during normal hours in Kottayam and Idukki while in Orange B districts, restaurants can function from 7 am to 7 pm but they have to ensure social distancing norms and hand sanitisers. All those who step out of their homes have been advised to wear masks.
Vehicles with odd numbers will be permitted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, whereas vehicles with even numbers will be allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; only critical services and emergency operations would be exempt. Women drivers travelling solo or with dependents are exempted from this restriction. Two passengers can travel in the back seat while for two wheelers pillion-riding is allowed only for a family member.
In Ernakulam, Kollam and Pathanamthitta districts, classified as Orange A zones, relaxation for restaurants will come into effect from April 24. Restaurant takeaways will be available till 8 pm. In the green zone districts, other commercial establishments, like textile shops, will be allowed to function.
Some of the other relaxations include grocery shops opening daily from 7 am to 5 pm and registered plumbers and electricians being allowed to work. Insurance companies, cooperative credit societies and recognised non-banking finance corporations will also be allowed to function with limited staff, while banks and government offices will work normal hours. Some businesses, like opticians, mobile phone shops, computers and accessories, auto workshops, barbershops and bookstores, will be permitted to open twice a week. The dates for these, too, will be April 20 or April 24, depending on the colour zone.
State chief Secretary Tom Jose said the state had discussed the zone-wise lockout plan with the Union home and health ministries. “We could convince them that minor modifications in the relaxations granted by the Centre within the broad guideline are required considering the peculiar demography and situation here. Our request had force because of our proper implementation of all earlier guidelines which yielded good results,” Tom Jose told TOI.
All places of worship and schools, colleges and shopping malls will remain closed across the state till May 3. So too will inter-district travel and Kochi Metro services.