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    Kerala opens to a new normal after lockdown

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    Thiruvananthapuram: On Monday, across most Kerala districts it was like a curtain raiser for the new normal, as the good old days of absolute freedom will now go down into history as the old normal.

    Barring public transport and auto-rickshaws, roads in Kerala witnessed traffic as markets and shops opened. Also opened offices in the government and the private sector.

    But barber shops, liquor vends, beauty parlours, cinema theatres, malls and gymnasiums are closed.

    Shops can open from 7 a.m. to 7.30 p.m, while restaurants can only provide packed food.

    "We have to continue like this for some more time, if not the gains that we have made might disappear. The lockdown norms set by the state government on the basis of the Centre's guideline will continue," said Law Minister A.K. Balan.

    Kerala has 95 coronavirus cases now after 410 people tested negative.

    It was on January 30 that the first case of Covid-19 was registered in Thrissur. It was also the first case in the country.

    Like in other parts of the country, districts have been classified into green, orange and red zones.

    While Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts are in the green zone, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Idukki, Kasargode, Thiruvananthapuram, and Wayanad are in orange zone. Kannur and Kottayam districts aare in red zone.

    For the first time since the lockdown became a reality in the state on March 23 and people were locked up, things have changed in most parts -- but Kannur and Kottayamof the state. Though most parts of the state are getting back to normal, strict conditions apply.

    "Hitherto we have only seen masks being worn by medical professionals at their clinics or in hospitals. But from now on, everyone who steps out of home has to wear it and violation will invite fine. Since life is precious, I am yet to find anyone without a mask," said a staff at a leading supermarket in the state capital.

    At Kottayam, though a red zone area, the market has started functioning, but with lot of restriction.

    "The lorries coming from outside have to get unloaded between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. Every shop have been asked to keep a register of people who come and maintain social distancing norms. Sanitizers are also a must," said a shopkeeper.

    The banks in the state started operating as normal. "Today we are working like any day before the lockdown. It's being the first day, there was a good rush. We are following all the safety norms," said a manager of a public sector bank, here.

    Hospitals too saw an increase in out-patients against the lockdown period.

    Peter Pittilapally, owner of a leading brand of home appliances chain in the state, said normally April and May accounted for almost 50 per cent of the year's business.

    "The home appliances showrooms must have easily lost Rs 2,000 crore business due to the lockdown. It's during these months, we have the maximum sales of AC, coolers and fans. But even though we are open, customers are not coming. Things are not rosy," said Pittilapally.

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