Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Wednesday announced that wearing face masks in public places and work places is mandatory in the state from Thursday. Not wearing masks would, henceforth, be considered a punishable offence.
Face masks are a must for people in public places and workspaces from Thursday (April 30) onwards, Kerala Police chief Loknath Behera informed.
Those who defy the social distancing norm will be charged under Section 290 of the IPC (punishment for public nuisance) and slapped a fine of Rs 200. Repeat offenders must pay Rs 5,000, the Kerala Police said in a statement.
People can use home-made cotton masks, handkerchief, or towel to cover their nose and mouth, the statement said.
Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stressed on the importance of launching the second phase of Break the Chain campaign, which will focus on the continued usage of masks in the state given the continued rise of COVID-19 cases. Six out of 14 districts are still in the red zone in Kerala.
In the second face of the campaign, the focus will be on maintaining social distancing, prevention of negligent disposal of masks and restriction of spitting in public, besides encouraging adequate water and food intake, and use of handkerchief while sneezing or coughing.
Kerala police has registered 4,435 cases across the state on Wednesday and arrested 4,300 people for travelling in violation of the lockdown protocol.
There have been 495 COVID-19 cases in Kerala and three deaths, so far. While the lockdown norms in the red zone is very tight, in the orange zone, some relaxations have been given.