VHP objects to easing of Covid restrictions for Eid-ul-Azha in Kerala,

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New Delhi, Jul 18 (PTI) The Vishva Hindu Parishad on Sunday objected to the Kerala government's decision to relax Covid restrictions in view of Eid-ul-Azha, which will be celebrated on July 21, saying it poses a 'huge' public health challenge.

The Uttarakhand government recently cancelled the annual Kanwar Yatra in view of the possibility of a third wave of the Covid pandemic hitting the country, the outfit's working president Alok Kumar told reporters.

Kerala's decision poses 'a huge public health challenge' and it will weaken the nation's fight against the pandemic, he said.

The Uttar Pradesh government had first decided to allow the Kanwar Yatra with certain restrictions, but later cancelled the annual pilgrimage 'accepting that right to life is paramount', after the Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of the matter, Kumar said.

Restrictions have been relaxed for three days in Kerala, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) said and hoped that the apex court will take cognisance of the matter.

'We are surprised that even after all these developments in the public domain, the Kerala chief minister announced that there will not be any restriction during the three days of Eid-ul-Azha. Malls, theatres, markets will remain open,' the VHP leader said.

'This is going to be a huge public health challenge. This will weaken the nation's fight against the Covid pandemic. I hope that the Supreme Court would take suo motu cognizance of this too and avert a major threat to public health in the country,' he added.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday announced certain relaxations in the Covid restrictions.

He said in view of Bakrid (Eid-ul-Azha) being celebrated on July 21 in the state, textiles, footwear shops, jewellery, fancy stores, shops selling home appliances and electronic items, all types of repairing shops and shops selling essential items shall be allowed to open on July 18, 19 and 20 from 7 am to 8 pm in category A, B and C areas.

In D category areas, these shops can function only on July 19, he said.

Areas with a Test Positivity Rate of less than five per cent are included in category A, those with five to 10 per cent are included in category B, areas with 10 to 15 per cent in category C and those above 15 per cent will be in category D.

'Along with the other permitted activities, electronic shops and electronic repair shops can also be opened on all days from 7 am to 8 pm in category A and B areas and during permitted days in other categories,' he said.

Places of worship can be allowed with a maximum of 40 people on special occasions of celebration, the chief minister said. PTI PK ANB ANB

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