The Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala has imposed a series of new restrictions amid all-time high Covid cases that include allowing only essential services on two Sundays, starting January 23. The government has also announced work from home for mothers who have children less than 2 years of age, cancer patients or those with severe illness.
Strict anti-Covid protocols will have to be followed at shops, malls, theme parks, beaches and other tourist spots.
The decisions were taken at a review meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan virtually from the United States.
The districts of the state have been divided into three categories based on how severe the cases are and how many people have been hospitalised.
Currently, state capital Thiruvananthapuram and the districts of Palakkad, Idukki, Wayanad are in the "Category B", where no social, cultural, political, religious, public meetings are allowed.
A maximum of 20 people can attend social functions like weddings and funerals.
The districts of Ernakulam, Kollam, Alappuzha are in "Category A", where a maximum of 50 people can attend social, cultural, religious, political and public functions as well as social events like weddings and funerals.
Currently, no district has been identified under "Category C", where stricter regulations are enforced. Under this, no gyms or swimming pools are allowed to operate and only 20 people are allowed at weddings and funerals.
Physical classes are allowed for only final-year students in colleges and those in Classes X and XII in "Category C" distrcts. All others have to attend classes online, including coaching classes.
On Thursday, Kerala reported 46, 387 cases of Covid-19 -- the highest-ever single day spike since the pandemic reached the state. The rate of infection has even crossed the peak of the second wave.
According to state Health Minister Veena George, the steep increase in cases is due to the highly infectious Omicron variant and they are expecting the cases to peak between mid-and-end February.