CM-led meeting today to decide on State’s way ahead

Govt. hopeful of some latitude from Centre

The Union government’s decision to extend the COVID-19 lockdown till May 31 has cast doubts in the public mind whether the State could push ahead with its plan to revive the local economy and restore some semblance of normalcy in social life.

Chief Secretary Tom Jose told The Hindu that a top-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan would examine the new set of Central regulations on Monday and plot the government’s course of action.

To seek exemptions

He said the State was in lockstep with the Centre. However, it would seek exemptions wherever necessary.

Another official said Kerala hoped that its relatively low COVID-19 caseload and effective quarantine measures would persuade the Centre to accord the State some latitude in re-adapting lockdown rules to suit local realities.

101 patients

He said the State had pegged the public health safety threshold of COVID-19 positive patients at 300 at a given time. Currently, Kerala has only 101 infected patients.

However, an increase in the number of cases would compel the government to seal the State’s borders and stop arrivals from abroad. The State did not want the disease to overwhelm its public health resources.

The extension of the lockdown, fourth in a row, comes at a time when the State had moved to admit school students, allow a limited number of customers in restaurants, lift the ban on liquor sale and restore public transport in COVID-19 free localities.

Warning against dilution

Officials said the Centre had warned States against diluting restrictions. Hence, the government has to walk a tightrope between keeping the pandemic at bay and restarting minimal economic activity without inviting the wrath of the Centre.

The State has prioritised the restart of paddy and vegetable farming to acquire some measure of food security before Onam. And the prediction that Kerala could anticipate a vigorous monsoon has put the State on its toes.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 9:31:47 PM |

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