THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Amid rising COVID-19 cases in Kerala, the state government on Monday saidstringent restrictions are warranted and prohibited all social, political, cultural and religious events along with the closure of cinemas, malls, gyms, bars, clubs and sports complexes from April 27 until further orders.
The decision was taken after an all-party meeting during which political parties unanimously agreed to continue with strict restrictions, Chie Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said at a press meet here.
"The meeting gave full support to the government's fight against the pandemic.
They also said there was no need for a full lockdown but we need to continue with strict restrictions," he said.
Listing the restrictions that will be imposed in the state from tomorrow, Vijayan said in religious places, only a maximum of 50 people can be allowed to offer prayers.
He said all government and private meetings should be held online besides social, political, cultural and religious functions/gatherings in the state have been prohibited until further orders.
Vijayan said a maximum of 50 people shall be allowed for marriages and all such events shouldbe registered with the COVID-19 'jagratha portal'.
"The maximum number of persons who can take part in funerals is limited to 20," a government order issued in this regard said.
"Cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, clubs, sports complexes, swimming pools, entertainment parks and bars shall remain shut, until further orders.
Only election related counting arrangements, essential and emergency services shall be allowed on May 1 and May 2, 2021," the order said.
It said officials on election duty, candidates, counting agents and media representatives only will be allowed (at the counting centres) on the day of counting--May 2.
"It is mandatory for the above category of people to produce either the final vaccination certificate after taking two doses of vaccination or a negative RT-PCR test report obtained within 72 hours of the start of counting," the order said.
Vijayan said 57.58 lakh people have taken the first dose of the COVID vaccine and 10.39 lakh the second.
"Though the government of India is yet to allow our request for 50 lakh doses, we will not let our exceptional drive be halted for want of vaccines.
To procure vaccines directly from the market, officials are in touch with both companies," he said.
The chief minister said restaurants can distribute takeaways till 9 PM and the shops in the state will function till 7.30 PM.
He also urged youngsters to take up blood donation drive.
He said 15,011 cases have been registered by police for not wearing masks and 5,862 cases for not maintaining social distancing on Monday alone and a fine of over Rs 46 lakh levied.
The state reported 21,890 fresh COVID-19 cases, including 70 health workers, and 28 related deaths on Monday, taking the total caseload to 14.27 lakh and the toll to 5,138.
As many as 7,943 people were cured of the infection, taking the total number of recoveries to 11,89,267.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said a total of 96,378 samples were tested on Monday, taking the overall number to 1,52,13,100.
The test positivity rate stood at 22.71 per cent,he said.
Among the districts Kozhikode reported the highest number of 3,251 cases, followed by Ernakulam with 2,515 and Malappuram with 2,455.
Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram recorded 2,416 and 2,272 cases respectively.
"Out of those found infected today, 230 reached the state from outside while 20,088 contracted the disease from their contacts. The sources of infection of 1,502 people are yet to be traced. Seventy health workers were also among the infected," the health department said in a release.
Vijayan said the new strains of the virus are being widely detected in the current wave of the pandemic and added that the health department was closely monitoring the situation.
"As per the latest report, the new strains spread in the first week of April in Kerala. Studies show that the new strains, which spread faster, is there in 40 per cent of the affected people. Experts have opined that these might have spread rapidly and more restrictions will be brought in such areas," Vijayan said in a press meet.
Currently, there are 2,32,812 people under treatment in the state.
There are 4,98,196 people under observation in the state, out of which 20,418 are in isolation wards of various hospitals.
There are currently 550 hot spots in the state.