After letter from Centre, Kerala says will amend relaxation order

NEW DELHI: Stating that the Kerala government’s April 17 order allowing additional activities like opening of barber shops, restaurants, local workshops and bookstores etc during the lockdown was a dilution of the consolidated guidelines issued on April 15, the Home ministry has asked the state chief secretary to “rectify” the order and bring it in line with MHA guidelines.

Soon after receipt of the home ministry’s instructions, Kerala chief secretary said the state government would amend their order, even as he insisted that Union home secretary was consulted before the state government allowed additional activities during the lockdown. Barber shops in Kerala will now be closed but barber can come home. Hotels won’t be opened. Online delivery of food and other essentials shall be allowed till 9 pm.

Earlier, in a communication to Kerala chief secretary, Union home secretary
Ajay Bhalla drew his attention to Kerala government’s decisions to allow opening of activities which are prohibited under the MHA revised lockdown guidelines issued on April 15, 2020. “Such additional activities…include opening of local workshops, barber shops, restaurants, book stores, MSMEs in municipal limits, bus travel in the cities/ towns for shorter distance (upto 60 km), two passengers in the backseat of four wheelers, pillion riding on scooters. This amounts to dilution of guidelines issued by MHA and violation of MHA Order dated 15th April 2020 issued under the Disaster Management Act 2005,” he pointed out.

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The home secretary underlined that Central ministries/departments as well as state/UT authorities were required to ensure strict implementation of the MHA guidelines without any dilution, even though stricter measures could be taken as per local requirement.

Also, he drew attention to the Supreme Court order dated March 31, in which it had said that “We trust and expect that all concerned viz. state governments, public authorities and citizens of this country will faithfully comply with the directives and orders issued by the Union of India in letter and spirit in the interest of public safety.”

Accordingly, the home ministry has urged the Kerala government to rectify the guidelines in line with the consolidated revised guidelines dated April 15 and 16 without any dilution and to ensure strict compliance of lockdown measures.

Meanwhile, the home secretary, in a separate letter to all states/UTs, has asked them to ensure strict implementation of the MHA guidelines “in letter and spirit”.

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