Intense lockdown in Kerala: Restrictions by several agencies create confusion, lead to arguments

Kerala lockdown
Police shuts down Sakthan Market in Thrissur. File photo

Thiruvananthapuram: The interpretation of the five-day intense lockdown norms by district administrations and police led to confusion at several places on day one of the additional restrictions on Saturday.

The Kerala government imposed additional restrictions - after withdrawing the relaxation announced a few days ago - to check the spread of COVID-19 pandemic and to bring down the test positive rate.

In some places, local authorities included more curbs, adding to the confusion that often led to arguments. Ban on several essential services establishments, such as vehicle workshops, have caused much difficulties to the people.

According to the revised government norms, businesses dealing with essential items, raw materials for industries (including packaging), construction materials (including electrical and plumbing) are allowed to function.

Arguments, however, arose over 'essential items' and police forced several establishments to down shutters after they were opened in the morning. Lack of clarity over the permitted working hours, too, led to arguments.

Police said all businesses, including restaurants, could function only between 9 am and 7.30 pm. Police closed restaurants that had opened for business before 9 am at several places, including Thiruvananthapuram. Only parcel service has been allowed in restaurants.

The government order said commercial establishments and public offices should not function without permission. Authorities, however, even sent back people on morning and evening walks, besides tightening restrictions on vehicular traffic.

Police have set up barricades at city borders, besides beefing up surveillance and checking. Self-attested affidavits are required for short trips, but a police-issued pass is must for inter-district travel.

There were also complaints of police preventing the movement of construction, cleaning and domestic workers, who have been allowed to work. The lack of clarity in the government order led to district collectors and district police chiefs issuing their own set of restrictions.

Meanwhile, complaints have been raised over certain "illogical" restrictions and relaxations. Though shops and establishments selling essential items have been allowed to function, the government order has not specified the businesses.

The essential services sector uses several vehicles, and private vehicles also ply in emergency situations. Repairing these vehicles are not possible with workshops remaining closed. Earlier, repair shops, including vehicle workshops, were allowed to function. The police interpretation now is that only those workshops catering to vehicles on essential duties could function.

Police also ordered the closing of workshops citing the government order has not specially mentioned the permission for workshops to function on weekends.

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