KOCHI: The state government on Tuesday informed the Kerala High Court that theatres were ordered to be closed down in 'C' category districts based on a consultative process involving health experts too. The government added that unlike in theatres, malls are visited by a moving population, none of whom stay at a single place for long.
The statement was filed in response to a petition filed by Film Exhibitors United Organization of Kerala against prohibiting the functioning of theatres citing a spike in Covid cases. The petitioners pointed out that there are no restrictions on the functioning of malls, hotels, restaurants, swimming pools and health clubs attached to hotels and apartment complexes. Even toddy shops and bar hotels are permitted to function in Category ‘C’ districts. Hence, the restriction imposed on a particular industry is arbitrary and discriminatory.
Justifying the decision to allow malls to function, the government submitted that they deal with the sale of essential articles also. In theatres, people are constrained to sit at a single place in an air-conditioned atmosphere for more than two hours, leading to more chances of the spread of Covid. It may also be noted that taking note of the situation, classes in colleges, except final year, and even 11th class in schools have been suspended in C category districts. "It may not be feasible to allow theatres in C category districts in this situation," submitted V Manu, the senior government pleader.
It added that the test positivity rate has been consistently bordering on 50 percent for the past many days. The restrictions have been implemented to address public health concerns and in the interest of the residents of the state as a whole.
The court will consider the case on Wednesday.