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Buses off roads, shops shut as Kerala goes into lockdown mode

Press Trust of India  |  Thiruvananthapuram 

Buses went off the roads, shops, barring those selling essentials, remained shut in most parts of Kerala on Tuesday as the state-wide lockdown to check coronavirus spread came into force but violations were galore, prompting police to book culprits.

Though the lockdown, which will be effective till March 31, came into force from midnight on Monday, autorickshaws and private vehicles, including two-wheelers, were seen plying at several places disregarding instructions that people should not venture out without any valid reason.

The LDF government announced the stringent restrictions as the number of active COVID-19 patients in the state surged to 91 with 28 fresh cases, the highest for a single day, on Monday.

In the state capital, as many as 52 cases were registered since Tuesday morning against those violating the lockdown, IGP Balram Kumar Upadhaya said.

They included at least 10 autorickshaw drivers who were plying without passengers, police said.

The IG was seen asking people on the road riding two- wheelers and driving cars to return home.

"People are interpreting lockdown in their own way. They should come out only in case of emergency situation", he said.

Several paint, textile shops and bakeries which were opened this morning were forcibly shut in the state capital.

At Thrissur's Paliyekkara toll plaza on the Mannuthy- Edappally Highway, long queues of private cars, taxies, trucks and two-wheelers were seen on the road, defying the lockdown.

State minister A C Moideen, said he would bring the matter to the notice of the Thrissur collector and necessary steps would be taken.

Two-wheeler riders were stopped in various parts of the state by police and allowed to proceed after taking a look at their ID cards and confirming if their travel was essential.

Government had said on Monday that all essential shops will remain open from 7 am to 5 pm, while in worst-hit Kasaragod they will function from 11 am to 5 pm.

Prohibitory orders are in force in six districts -- Kasaragod, Malappuram, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Pathnamthitta districts.

Police said a case has been registered against six people in Kannur for coming out of their homes without any valid reason.

Police also booked a Dubai returned man, who was seen outside his house during home quarantine. He had been "continuously defying" the medical personnel's advise on home quarantine, police said.

There was a long queue in front of a liquor outlet in Kannur and BJP workers, wearing masks, protested against the opening of the state-run retail shop.

Kerala has been reporting new COVID-19 cases in double digits in the past few days.

At least 64,320 people have been placed under surveillance, out of which 63,937 are under home isolation and 383 admitted to designated isolation facilities.

As per the government order on lockdown, all passenger transport services, including inter-state, inter-district and intra-district operations of road transport corporations and private operators will not be operated.

Use of taxis and autorickshaws, besides online taxi services of Uber, Ola, will be permitted only for procurement of essential commodities, medicines and for attending to medical emergencies.

The plying of private vehicles would be allowed only to the extent of procuring essential commodities, medicines and for other activities permitted under the order.

Not more than one person would be permitted in private vehicles, excluding the person driving the vehicle.

Congregation of more than five people in public places has been prohibited.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 24 2020. 12:42 IST