Thiruvananthapuram: After the Centre took strong objection to easing of certain COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the Kerala government on Monday decided not to allow plying of buses in cities, opening of restaurants and pillion riding on two-wheelers even as it asserted that there will not be any compromise on health safety precautions.
The decision in this regard was taken at a meeting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had with Chief Secretary Tom Jose this morning.
Day 1 of the relaxations saw scores of people hitting the roads in their four-wheelers and two-wheelers in various parts of the state, including coronavirus hotspots, and there was confusion galore over the easing of norms.
Speaking to reporters, Vijayan said there was no conflict between the Centre and the state over the easing of lockdown protocol and the state government was diligently following the directions of the union government.
"There was an argument that Kerala has diluted the lockdown protocol. But we had analysed the situation and decided on the lockdown restrictions.
There will not be any compromise on health safety precautions. We made certain changes on hot spots based on the situation in Kerala and sought permission from the Centre for the same.
There will be no public transport. Dine-in facility will not be allowed in hotels and restaurants and only parcels services (takeaway) will function", he said.
Vijayan said the government had requested that the state be allowed separate buses to ply staff of large-scale industries after following necessary health precautions. This was misunderstood.
Now the government officials will be allowed to travel in their own vehicles to reach their offices even from other districts,he said.
All agri based units will function, but banks have been told to function only with necessary staff.
"We also saw that banks have asked all their staff to be present in the offices. We have instructed them to function only with necessary personnel", he said.
The Chief Minister said relaxation of some restrictions had seen a lot of vehicles on the roads, as per reports.
"This cannot be allowed," he said.
The Centre had shot off a letter to the state government coming down heavily for its decision to allow opening of restaurants, bus travel in cities and opening of MSME industries in urban areas, saying it amounts to dilution of lockdown guidelines and also a Supreme Court observation.
It said Kerala on April 17 circulated revised guidelines for lockdown measures which allowed opening of activities that are prohibited.in the Centre's consolidated guidelines.
The state government had earlier decided to give relaxation in the lockdown in Green and range B Zones. These included allowing dine-in services at hotels and restaurants from Monday.
Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary said he had spoken to the Union Home Secretary on Sunday night and the state would write to the Centre on the clarification sought.
"I had a long chat with him last night. He said Kerala was ahead of other states (in COVID-19 treatment).
If Kerala needs special relaxations, the secretary said the state can approach the Centre", Jose said in an interaction with Editors of various media organisations in the stat through video conference.
The day witnessed long queues of vehicles, including in hotspots as the lockdown restrictions were eased in some places.
The state government had brought in certain relaxations in seven districts. But there was confusion over the implementation date.
The Left front government had colour-coded 14 districts into four zones-- Red, Green, Orange-A and Orange-B,for containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Idukki and Kottayam come under the Green zone, where no positive cases have been reported in the past 14 days, there was confusion on when the relaxations would come into effect.
Ministers in charge of the two districts said the relaxations would be effective from Monday, while the District Collectors said it would be from Tuesday.
Thiruvanthapuram, Alappuzha, Palakkad, Wayanadand Thrissur districts come under the Orange B zone, where partial relaxations are allowed from Monday.
A late night government order said there are 88 hotspots,including Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi corporation areas, in the state and there would be no relaxations there.
Police used drones at Thiruvanantthapuram and Kochi to check the lockdown violations.