Coronavirus | Kerala police get more powers to enforce virus norms

Tight control: The CM said breach of distancing norms on a mass scale would invite prosecution.

Tight control: The CM said breach of distancing norms on a mass scale would invite prosecution.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday gave the Kerala police sweeping powers to enforce COVID-19 quarantine norms.

They will impose the civic rules and social behaviour code, designed to halt the further spread of the disease. There will be no leniency or dilution of norms, he said.

Physical distancing

Law enforcement would carry out the mandate to maintain physical distancing. It would implement the directive to compulsory wear face masks in public.

The police would patrol public places and residential neighbourhoods to detect violators of the epidemic control Ordinance and slap fines or effect arrests, if necessary.

A committee comprising the District Police Chief, District Collector and the District Medical Officer would decide and demarcate containment zones based on the local COVID-19 caseload.

The committee would restrict containment zones to compact clusters of houses based on the presence of infected persons instead of locking down an entire municipal or panchayat ward.

The police would cut off the mini-containment zones from the rest of the State until the infected persons tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. They would not allow retail trade, travel of people, social gatherings and other outdoor activities in such sectors.

Motorcycle squads and foot patrols would consistently cover the hotspots. The police would also use drones for surveillance.

Law enforcers, aided by the volunteer force, would ensure containment localities were well supplied. They would care for the locked-in residents.

Mr. Vijayan made the police primarily responsible for tracing infected persons based on their contact history. Law enforcement would deploy its digital tools and plainclothes resources for the task. It would expedite the tracing of primary and secondary contacts,

Mr. Vijayan said breach of physical-distancing norms on a mass scale would invite prosecution.

Flexible strategy

He indicated that the government would follow a flexible containment strategy.

It entailed minimal relaxation of restrictions, interspersed with strictly enforced periods of curfew in the third phase of the national unlock process scheduled to commence on August 5.

Mr. Vijayan said he had noticed an incremental slackening of the vigil against the disease in Kerala.

Some people had taken the easing of regulations for granted. They had set a wrong example by organising mass events, the Chief Minister said.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 4:13:20 AM |

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