‘Will modify Covid travel restrictions with Kerala’: Karnataka govt to HC
The Karnataka government informed the state’s high court on Friday it had offered to modify several Covid-19 related travel restrictions that were imposed in the neighbouring state of Kerala amid an increase in its caseload, according to a report by Live Law (livelaw.in).
The submission was made by the Karnataka government’s counsel to a division bench comprising chief justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Vishwajith Reddy. While hearing the oral submission made by the counsel, the bench observed that inter-state roads could not be blocked and added that the state government should abide by the Centre’s guidelines on inter-state travel, according to the report.
The bench also said that the Karnataka government should facilitate an infrastructure to check the RT-PCR test reports of travellers arriving from Kerala at the border points rather than sealing them. “If you want to create infrastructure for checking of reports etc you can do it. Otherwise, you cannot simply keep the roads closed like this. Create infrastructure and allow,” it added.
The Centre’s counsel said during the hearing that the government had not ordered for the closure of roads under its guidelines and roads would have to be kept open. “As far as testing is concerned that only district authorities can take a decision, there is no restriction for the movement of any person. The order issued is extended till March 31,” the counsel pointed out.
Karnataka had sealed several roads and national highways with Kerala on February 22 after the former had seen the emergence of two Covid-19 clusters in Bengaluru. People from Kerala were only allowed entry after they produced a negative RT-PCR test report which was not older than 72 hours.
In what was seen as an immediate response to this, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 23 and sought the Centre’s intervention on these new restrictions imposed. Vijayan mentioned that people, vehicles carrying essential goods and patients going for medical treatment faced ‘undue hardships’ at Karnataka’s borders due to these rules. He also said that the inter-state travel restrictions opted by states were contrary to those of the Centre. “I request your urgent intervention in this matter so that the hardship of people from Kerala travelling to the neighbouring state of Karnataka can be avoided,” the Kerala CM’s letter read.
However, Karnataka health minister Dr K Sudhakar clarified that the state government had not restricted inter-state travel with Kerala. Attaching a copy of Vijayan’s letter to PM Modi and the Karnataka government’s circular, Sudhakar said, “However, as a precautionary measure, guidelines have been issued that travellers entering Karnataka from Kerala must mandatorily possess a negative RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours.”