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People wait to board buses as others walk in Kochi, Kerala state, India, on August 5, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has taken a lot of flak over its new COVID-19 guidelines, but the Health Minister has said that there will be no change in the decision.

State Health Minister Veena George announced the new guidelines on Wednesday, which says that those who enter shops, banks and other establishments should have at least one dose of vaccine or an RT-PCR certificate not older than 72 hours.

In the Kerala Assembly, on Thursday, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan led a walkout of the House in protest against George, who categorically said there would be no change in the norms.

“It’s strange that to buy 2kg of rice one has to be either vaccinated or carry RT-PCR certificate. Fail to understand what sort of rationale and logic is being used,” said Satheesan.

Incidentally, the relaxed new lockdown norms came hours after Kerala recorded 50 per cent of the daily new cases in the country, and on Wednesday 22,414 new infections were reported.

Confusion

Meanwhile, social media was flush with activity, trolling the Kerala government’s new guidelines. Many termed it as illogical as only around 50 per cent of the state population has received their first dose, thus forcing the remaining 50 per cent to remain indoors.

And, adding insult to the injury came a fresh Central government guideline which has asked states like Kerala having a high virus spread to ensure that strict adherence to protocols and festivals should not see any sort of crowding.

With Kerala’s traditional harvest festival — Onam all set to commence, the new set of guidelines are going to create a lot of confusion.

According to the new guidelines all shops, tourism centres and other establishments should display the status of vaccination of employees and the number of customers permitted at a time. It shall be the responsibility of the owner of such establishments to avoid crowding inside and outside the shop. Enforcement agencies will conduct checks and take action to ensure the above.

All establishments in the public sector, including government offices, PSUs, companies, autonomous organisations, and commissions will function from Monday to Friday.

It was also informed that persons who have taken at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine before two weeks, or who are in possession of RT-PCR negative certificate taken 72 hours before or who is in possession of Covid-19 positive results more than a month old will be allowed inside (workers/visitors) in shops, markets, banks, public and private offices, financial institutions, factories, industrial establishments, open tourist spaces and other establishments.