For most of the past week, the state of Kerala has been recording a rise in Covid-19 cases.
On July 28, last month, Kerala recorded an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases. The number stood at a staggering 22,056 infections, more than half the national tally for the day. In response, the Kerala government ordered a complete weekend lockdown on the state on July 31 and August 1. In this time, Kerala also recorded the highest number of deaths per million, in the country.
Kerala's cases represent close to 45 percent of the daily cases being reported in India. The fear of a third wave knocking on its doors is real as an increasing number of cases of the highly infectious Delta variant are recorded.
A new set of guidelines was issued in the state on August 4 , with the relaxation of some norms following the strict weekend lockdown. In urban wards and panchayats where the Weekly Infection Population Ratio (WIPR) is greater than 10 (more than 10 infections in 1,000 individuals), a triple lockdown will be imposed.
Can you travel to Kerala?
Yes, both domestic and international travel to Kerala is possible. Travellers arriving in Kerala, by road, by air, and by train or bus, need to carry a negative RT-PCR report issued within 48 hours of entering the state as per a Health Ministry (GoK) order issued on July 18. This was later updated to exempt those who have received two doses of the vaccine.
Those who are not carrying a negative RT-PCR report will be required to take a test on arrival and remain in room isolation until the results have arrived. If the test report is positive, travellers need to seek immediate medical attention.
Registration on the Government of Kerala E-Jagratha portal is mandatory where an application for an e-pass for visitors can be made. Short visits to the state are capped at eight days.
Can you travel within Kerala?
There is currently no cap on inter-district travel within Kerala as long as it is in line with the current guidelines in the state. On August 4, the Kerala government issued fresh instructions following the weekend lockdown that has allowed for some curbs to be lifted. Shops (both essential and non-essential) can remain open from 7 am to 9 pm, on all days except Sunday.
A special allowance has been made for shops to remain open on August 15 and August 22 on account of Independence Day and Onam.
However, there is a rider here. Only staff and visitors who have received at least one dose of the vaccination more (15 days ago or more), or can display a negative RT-PCR test report, are allowed to enter. Social distancing measures will need to be followed as per the size of the establishment. Restaurants and hotels are allowed delivery.
Public transport is allowed with strict masking and social distancing protocol.
Entry to religious places is allowed but capped at 40 people at a time. Earlier last month, Sabarimala Temple was open to 5,000 visitors between July 17 and 21 for the yearly Masapooja.
Can you travel from Kerala to other states?
In view of the mounting cases in the state, other states have taken cognisance and tightened curbs for those travelling from Kerala. Both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu require negative RT-PCR test reports for travellers from Kerala, issued not more than 72 hours in advance. This is irrespective of the vaccination status of travellers.
On August 5, Goa has also made negative RT-PCR test reports mandatory for travellers from Kerala. Earlier a Rapid Antigen Test (RAG) report was accepted.
What to know about traveling in Kerala
To Kerala: RT-PCR negative test report issued 48 hours in advance and registration of E-Jagratha platform mandatory. E-pass application for short-term and long-term visits can be carried out here. Fully vaccinated individuals can carry their vaccination certificate instead of an RT-PCR test report.
Within Kerala: No restrictions for inter-district travel within current lockdown guidelines.
Other states: Travellers from Kerala need to carry a negative RT-PCR test report in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Goa.