Kerala imposes night-time curfew on religious places too

Churchgoers likely to miss New Year eve Mass

Churchgoers are likely to miss their New Year eve midnight mass. The State government has included religious places of worship in its sweeping ban on gatherings from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to prevent a possible surge in Omicron variant-driven COVID-19 cases. The embargo would apply from December 30 to January 2.

Written testimony

The administration has counselled people to shun non-essential travel during the curfew. Those who venture outdoors should carry a written testimony detailing their travel purpose. The night-time ban on gatherings would also apply to social events, New Year parties, and political meetings.

Earlier, the government had ordered bars, clubs, hotels and restaurants to scale back New Year celebrations drastically. Hence, New Year revelries would wind up by 10 p.m. Hotels would restrict guests to 50% of the total capacity and ensure physical distancing.

An official privy to the government’s pandemic review meetings said the jury was still out on whether the Omicron variant would cause severe illness. Nevertheless, the administration was fearful that the contagion could overwhelm the State’s health infrastructure.

The police would strictly enforce the mask mandate in public places. Sectoral magistrates would restrict crowds at shopping malls, auditoriums, indoor venues, cinema halls, markets, beaches and parks.

A pandemic review meeting later in the week would examine whether the administration should extend the night curfew beyond January 2. The official said more restrictions were likely if the COVID-19 caseload climbed sharply.

Tourism hit again

The spectre of a third COVID-19 wave has forced the tourism and hospitality industries to scrap New Year celebrations. Travel restrictions, international flights’ scaling down, the general police clampdown on DJ parties, and nighttime merrymaking have dampened the holiday spirit.

An official said the government did not feel the need for imposing a Statewide lockdown. However, if warranted, containment measures would kick in at the neighbourhood and household level. The government has ordered establishments conducting in-person business to keep a customer ledger. Security personnel should check the body temperature of visitors and ensure staff members are fully vaccinated.

General Education Minister V. Sivankutty would convene a meeting to streamline SSLC and Plus 2 examinations in 2022.

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