Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kerala Government on Friday promulgated the 'Epidemic Diseases Ordinance 2020' with the objective "to unify and consolidate the laws relating to the regulation and prevention of epidemic diseases".
As per the Ordinance, "Epidemic Disease" means any disease declared as epidemic disease by notification published in the official gazette, by the Government.
Section 4 of the Ordinance gives the Government power to take "special measures and specify Regulations as to epidemic disease".
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The Section enables the government to take measures such as :
(a) to prohibit any usage or act which the Government considers sufficient to spread or transmit epidemic diseases from person to person in any gathering, celebration, worship or other such activities within the State;
(b) to inspect the persons arriving in the State by air, rail, road, sea or any other means or in quarantine or in isolation, as the case may be, in hospital, temporary accommodation, home or otherwise of persons suspected of being infected with any such disease by the officers authorized in the regulation or orders;
(c) to seal State borders for such period as may be deemed necessary;
(d) to impose restrictions on the operation of public and private transport;
(e) to prescribe social distancing norms;
(f) to restrict or prohibit congregation of persons in public places and religious institutions;
(g) to regulate or restrict the functioning of offices, Government and private, and educational institutions in the State;
(h) to impose prohibition or restrictions on the functioning of shops and commercial establishments, factories, workshops and godowns;
(i) to restrict duration of services in essential or emergency services such as banks, media, health care, food supply, electricity, water, fuel, etc.;
(j) such other measures as may be necessary for the regulation and prevention of epidemic diseases as decided by the Government.
Violation of the Regulations and instructions is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.
The offence is cognizable and bailable.
It is also clarified that the Ordinance is in in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.
Kerala has 164 cases of COVID-19 reported, as on Friday evening. The state reported the first case of death due to COVID-19 on Saturday. The deceased was a 69-year old man with a history of heart ailments. He had reached Kerala from Dubai on March 23.
Click here to download Ordinance