Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Friday justified its decision to make vaccine certificate or RT-PCR test negative result mandatory for people to visit shops and other establishments in the state and said it was theirresponsibilityto ensure adequate protection to the lives of people in the view of the COVID-19 spread.
Health Minister Veena George told the state Assembly that the government had decided on the fresh directives after detailed contemplation with an aim to check the further spread of the virus and it was unfortunate that the opposition opposed it.
High population density, lifestyle diseases and increasing number of elderly people were major causes of worry with regard to the COVID spread in the state, she said.
“Though the lockdown restrictions are lifted, the government is forced to continue some other simplified curbs due to these factors. The prime responsibility of the government is to protect the people,” she said.
She was speaking during the zero hour when the opposition moved a notice for an adjournment motion over the new restrictions alleging that they were “impractical”.
Pointing to a recent Supreme Court verdict with regard to the easing of curbs, she said the apex court had made it clear that any relaxation to the lockdown restrictions should be given after ensuring protection to the life and property of people.
Criticising the opposition, she said the only aim of those who objected to this was to tarnish the image of the government even though the disease spread had intensified.
It would not be possible for the government to lift all the restrictions at one go in the present circumstance, she said and reminded the opposition that it may cost the state dear if it was decided to go without the imposition of any curbs.
She also made it clear that the curbs were not meant to continue forever.
Over 34 lakh people have been infected in the state so far and over 17,000 people lost their lives, the minister said, detailing the COVID situation in the state.
K Babu (Congress), who moved the notice, said if the new order is implemented, elderly people would be forced to come out of their houses to meet household needs.
A majority of those, who had taken vaccines in the state, were elderly people and only 28 per cent of the youth had received the jabs in the state so far, he said.
Opposition leader V D Satheesan attacked the government over the new COVID-related directives and said the Left government was mocking the people by imposing more restrictions after announcing that it would relax the lockdown curbs.
The latest government order gives power to the police to stop anyone and impose fines citing the directives, he alleged.
The UDF members later staged a walkout as Speaker M B Rajesh denied leave for the motion after the minister’s reply.
As per the recent order, only people, who have taken at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine two weeks ago, or who were in possession of RT-PCR negative certificate taken 72 hours earlier or who are in possession of COVID-19 positive results more than a month old, would be allowed inside (workers/visitors) shops, banks and other establishments.
However, the Health Minister earlier said in the House that it is “desirable” that those visiting shops take at least one dose of vaccine or have RT-PCR negative certificate received within 72 hours or those recovered from the infection withina month.
Under attack from Opposition parties and traders over prolongedlockdown restrictions for some time, the Kerala government on Wednesday announcedeasing of the curbs, imposed inthe state in view of the spread of COVID-19.
As per the new guidelines, shops, markets, banks, offices, financial institutions, factories, industrial establishments, open tourist spaces and other establishments can function six days in a week from Monday to Saturday.