COVID-19: Kerala CM says no leniency for those who violate protocol

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said the government would show no leniency to those who refuse to wear masks in public, jump quarantine or fail to maintain physical distance.

Inaugurating the commissioning of 102 family health centres via video link, Mr. Vijayan said he had noticed an incremental slackening of the vigil against the disease in Kerala.

Some people had taken the easing of regulations for granted. They had extended the limits of the COVID-19 protocol mandated restrictions on public conduct by organising and attending mass events with no care for public safety.

(The State’s official case tally reached 25,911, with the reporting of 1,169 new cases on Sunday alone.)

He said their reckless actions had spawned worryingly large community clusters in some densely populated coastal and urban localities in the State. “I am not blaming anybody or spelling out the reasons for the increase in the COVID-19 caseload. But at least those who are responsible for the spread would do well to remember their callous actions with some measure of guilt,” the Chief Minister said.

Mr. Vijayan appeared to be referring to the spate of anti-government agitations demanding his resignation by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party in July.

‘Wrong message’

The Chief Minister had earlier accused the Opposition parties of having sent a wrong message to the public by breaching physical distancing to organise protests.

He had also slammed senior Opposition politicians for breaking reverse quarantine to lead crowded rallies.

The police had also said that the demonstrations had drastically escalated the health risk faced by officers. Law enforcers tasked to police the demonstration had exposed themselves to the risk of contagion significantly.

Mr. Vijayan had also repeatedly flagged the breach of social distancing norms on a large scale as witnessed at political protests, funerals, weddings, prayer meetings and supermarkets.

An official said the government might not relax lockdown regulations currently in force in Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation any time soon.

(The situation in Thiruvananthapuram remained to be grave, with 377 new cases on Sunday).

The government did not want the disease pattern in Thiruvananthapuram to repeat in other densely packed urban localities in the State.

Hence, the government might follow a containment strategy that allowed minimal relaxation of restrictions interspersed with strictly enforced periods of curfew in the third phase of the national unlock down process scheduled to commence on August 5.

( Mr. Vijayan is expected to dwell on the State’s future unlock down plans at his routine COVID-19 news briefing.)

Cash fines criticised

Meanwhile, the Kerala police have started imposing cash fines on people who do not wear masks or adhere to physical distancing rules. The move has drawn criticism from the Opposition. Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala had said that the government erroneously “treated a public health hazard as a law and order issue”.

Officials said the government appeared to have revolved around to the view that the pandemic was not disappearing any time soon.

Total shutdowns had served their purpose. The need to revive production, retail trade and business had made complete closures redundant in the current unlock down phase.

Hence, the government has insisted that the public learn to live with the pandemic and observe the health protocol diligently while going about their usual business.

Adhering to disease transmission prevention protocol has to become second nature to citizens. Walling of epidemic hotspots from other localities has replaced sweeping State-wide lockdowns for now. But the government has kept all options open given the relentless march of the disease, the official said.

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2020 10:36:39 PM |

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