Kerala imposes safety rules for 1 yrUpdated: Jul 05, 2020 23:38 IST
The Kerala government tightened measures on Sunday to check the spread of Covid-19 cases by making wearing of facemask and observance of social distancing mandatory for one year. The government backed the measures, saying people had begun to take safety rules casually after relaxations. However, traders in the state said the tightening of norms may prove to be counterproductive for businesses.
Fine for those not wearing a mask has been increased to Rs 10,000 or to a two-year jail term. These measures will be in force for one year unless notified otherwise, said a statement from the government.
“We don’t want to lower our guard at the critical juncture. After norms are eased, some people are behaving like pre-Covid days; we want to check this. As long as the virus is in our backyard, we have to follow three basic norms, social distancing, masks and hand hygiene,” state health minister K K Shailaja said.
The government amended the Kerala Epidemic Diseases Control Ordinance 2020 on Saturday to give it more teeth. Earlier, the fine for not wearing a mask was Rs 2,000. The amendment has also made social distancing mandatory for at least one year and restricted the number of participants for wedding parties to less than 50. For all social gatherings, protests and rallies, a written sanction of authorities will be needed, said the statement.
Spitting in public places has been made an offence punishable with a fine or jail term. In shops and other business establishments, the amendment limits the presence of people to a maximum of 20, depending on the size of the trading area. Even at work places, masks are mandatory and wearing them casually will also invite a fine. Business establishments have been asked to avoid air-conditioning and closed enclosures and told to maintain office temperature in the range of 25 and 27 degree Celsius.
While Indian Medical Association’s Kerala chapter, which wanted stricter norms, welcomed the move, traders and businessmen were guarded in their reaction.
“Containment measures are welcome but at the same time the government will have to ensure proper atmosphere for traders. Even at worst-hit areas in Tamil Nadu and Mumbai these norms are not extended to one year,” said MP Prashanth, a trader in Chalai market in Thiruvananthapuram.
The decision came in the backdrop of a steady rise in coronavirus disease cases in the state. On Sunday, Kerala reported 225 Covid-19 cases, taking the state’s tally to 5,429. One person succumbed to the infection, taking the toll up to 26.