Kerala

CM rules out State-wide lockdown

Mananchira, an otherwise busy area of Kozhikode city, especially during Ramzan, looks desolate on Wednesday night after authorities toned up restrictions in view of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the city. Shopping areas, including the iconic S.M. Street, adjoin Mananchira.   | Photo Credit: K. Ragesh

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday ruled out a State-wide lockdown.

However, the government would curb civic life to a considerable measure on the weekend to slow down the transmission of a resurgent and more virulent COVID-19 virus. There was no change in the higher secondary examination schedule, he said.

Only essential services would operate on April 24 and 25. The government has declared Saturday a holiday. Mr. Vijayan said the government had not insisted on a lockdown. It was incumbent upon citizens to save the State a shutdown, he said.

Hence, residents should sequester themselves indoors as far as possible on Saturday and Sunday. The government had introduced the restrictions to reduce public interaction to stop the virus spread, he said.

Nevertheless, citizens could conduct marriages and house-warming ceremonies already registered on the COVID-19 Jagratha portal. However, hosts should ensure not more than 75 guests.

The 9 p.m. to 5 a.m curfew would continue till May 3. Shops should down shutters at 7.30 p.m. District magistrates could relax hotel timings to deliver food to citizens observing Ramzan fast, he said.

The government has exempted neighbourhood shops selling food, groceries, fruits, vegetables, milk, dairy products and meat and fish stalls from the weekend restrictions.

The administration has not restricted long-distance bus services or air and rail travel. Cab services and private vehicles could ferry passengers from and to airports, railway stations and bus terminals.

The police would check travellers for documents proving their reason for journey. Those who venture out without valid reason would risk prosecution. Government departments would function with 50% staff. Employees should work from home and make their service available if requested by the District Magistrate. They could attend office on a rotational basis.

Private institutions could allow only minimal number of staff to attend office and emphasise work from home. Mr. Vijayan said closed spaces drastically increased the viral load and posed a higher transmission risk.

The weekend curbs would not apply to citizens requiring medical attention or those going for vaccinations. The government has also exempted employees of cable television networks, internet service providers from the restrictions.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 1:05:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/cm-rules-out-state-wide-lockdown/article34378868.ece

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