Thiruvananthapuram, April 20 (IANS) It was like walking to freedom in many areas of seven districts in Kerala on Monday when people under the impression that lockdown norms were eased came out in large numbers on the streets. The police had a tough time to deal with the situation and make the people understand that relaxation terms were just changed late night.
On Sunday evening, 14 districts in the state was divided into four zones — Green, Orange A, Orange B and Red.
The State government, based on the COVID-19 spread, had divided the Idukki and Kottayam districts — classified as Green Zone — to witness routine life subject to the Centre’s directives.
The Orange B zone, which include Alappuzha, Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad, Trissur and Wayanad, were also allowed normal activities.
In these seven districts, the direction was to allow a near normal life, but the general national guidelines like no assembly of people, no public transport vehicles to be allowed while private vehicles based on the system of odd and even had to be followed.
But, late Sunday night, the Chief Secretary Tom Jose came out with a fresh guideline that the Centre had notified 88 hot spots in the state and there should be no relaxation in any way.
Of the 88 hot spots, 22 were in these seven districts. But on Monday morning, many in these seven districts, unaware of the fresh guidelines, came out to the streets in good numbers, leaving the police perplexed.
In the suburbs of the capital district, the police had a tough time in stopping people coming on the roads.
Long queues of vehicles were seen and many who were not in the exempted category was forced to return.
Likewise, even though inter district movement has been banned till May 3, there was crowding of vehicles at the borders and here too police had to act tough.
In Idukki , where there six hot spots, many who had come to clean the shops had to close them down and go back. However, in all this, the Fire- fighting Force officials was seen engaged in cleaning operations in major centres.
At Trissur, angry Youth Congress workers staged a protest at a toll gate against the toll collection from the vehicles.
By noon, with the police emphasising the hot spot areas, the flow of free traffic came down and people in hotspot areas of these seven districts beat a hasty retreat.
Following the news that no activity would be allowed in the hotspot areas and the letter of displeasure from the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla over the relaxation of certain activities to Jose, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was closeted with high ranking officials on this issue. Jose before entering the meeting told the media that he has intimated to Bhalla, what the situation was and there was no ambiguity and they have informed the Centre and are working as a team.
Following the meeting, the State government decided to inform the Centre that they will not allow opening of the barber shops and restaurants ( home delivery is only possible till 9 p.m.), but the state has requested for some relaxation with regards to the number of people that can be allowed to travel and also for relaxation in the way workshops can be opened.
In the case of Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kollam districts — classified under Orange A zone — restrictions would be in force, as of now, till April 23.
The districts like Kasargode, Kannur, Malappuram and Kozhikode in the Red category would continue with the lockdown, as of today.