It was supposed to be a pleasant off-day for Kerala Tourism Minister PA Muhammad Riyas, but not all members of the public were in approval of the young politician's family photo from a Sunday outing that he shared on Facebook.
Riyas had posted a picture of himself, in proper casual attire, along with five members of his family at the Kovalam Beach in Thiruvananthapuram.
The unmistakable element in the candid snap was something that wasn't quite in sync with the times we live in -- the absence of face masks. All six can be seen posing on the seashore without face masks.
Within three hours of posting, the image had over 18,000 likes and over 100 shares, besides more than 600 comments. However, a majority of the comments asked a common question: 'Where is the mask, minister?'
"If we go without a mask, the fine per head is Rs 500," read one of the comments.
Sarcasm was the general tone. "For a moment I thought the respected minister was in the UAE because masks are not mandatory in the beaches there," wrote a Facebook user Ershad Omanoor. Another user, Aboo Zayana, noted: "So corona has left! happy."
Shyju Meleparambath asked: "Is corona and protocol not applicable to you. What extra rights does the country give you, which an ordinary citizen doesn't have?"
The Kerala government had recently reopened tourist spots with a rider that all visitors must abide by the COVID protocol that insists on face masks and social distancing.
Recently, Minister Riyas had announced that tourism destinations in Kerala were operating on a bio-bubble model. He had said that the state tourism department has made elaborate plans to make Kerala a safe tourism destination amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kovalam is one of the most sought-after locations in Kerala from a tourism perspective. The young DYFI leader is also the son-in-law of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.