COVID-19:Kerala bans political, religous events; cinemas,

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malls,gyms to remain closed from April 27 Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 26 (PTI) Amid rising COVID-19 cases in Kerala, the state government on Monday saidstringent restrictions are warranted and prohibited all social, political, cultural and religious events along with the closure of cinemas, malls, gyms, bars, clubs and sports complexes from April 27 until further orders.

The decision was taken after an all-party meeting during which political parties unanimously agreed to continue with strict restrictions, Chie Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said at a press meet here.

'The meeting gave full support to the government's fight against the pandemic.They also said there was no need for a full lockdown but we need to continue with strict restrictions,' he said.

Listing the restrictions that will be imposed in the state from tomorrow, Vijayan said in religious places, only a maximum of 50 people can be allowed to offer prayers.

He said all government and private meetings should be held online besides social, political, cultural and religious functions/gatherings in the state have been prohibited until further orders.

Vijayan said a maximum of 50 people shall be allowed for marriages and all such events shouldbe registered with the COVID-19 'jagratha portal'.

'The maximum number of persons who can take part in funerals is limited to 20,' a government order issued in this regard said.

'Cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, clubs, sports complexes, swimming pools, entertainment parks and bars shall remain shut, until further orders.Only election related counting arrangements, essential and emergency services shall be allowed on May 1 and May 2, 2021,' the order said.

It said officials on election duty, candidates, counting agents and media representatives only will be allowed (at the counting centres) on the day of counting--May 2.

'It is mandatory for the above category of people to produce either the final vaccination certificate after taking two doses of vaccination or a negative RT-PCR test report obtained within 72 hours of the start of counting,' the order said.

Vijayan said 57.58 lakh people have taken the first dose of the COVID vaccine and 10.39 lakh the second.

'Though the government of India is yet to allow our request for 50 lakh doses, we will not let our exceptional drive be halted for want of vaccines.To procure vaccines directly from the market, officials are in touch with both companies,' he said.

The chief minister said restaurants can distribute takeaways till 9 PM and the shops in the state will function till 7.30 PM.

He also urged youngsters to take up blood donation drive.

He said 15,011 cases have been registered by police for not wearing masks and 5,862 cases for not maintaining social distancing on Monday alone and a fine of over Rs 46 lakh levied.

On Monday, Kerala reported 21,890 new COVID-19 cases and 28 more deaths, taking the infection count in the state to 14,27,545 and the toll to 5,138.PTI RRT BN BALA BN BALA