Govt. drops plans to relax COVID-19 restrictions

With the government relaxing curbs for Bakrid, there was a huge rush of shoppers in State on Tuesday. A view of the crowded Broadway in Kochi.   | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

The State government on Tuesday baulked at the demand for further easing of COVID-19 regulations.

Seemingly stung by the Supreme Court’s disapproval of Bakrid relaxations, the administration decided to continue weekend lockdowns and other allied curbs on retail, life and mobility at least till July 27. Night curfew after 9 p.m. would remain. So would the ban on inessential travel.

The expert committee, presided by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, noted an uptick in the average test positivity rate (10.8). The committee attributed the marginal increase to enhanced testing.

Worrying TPR

The government noted that the pandemic situation in several local body jurisdictions in Kozhikode and Kasaragod was worrying. The TPR in many localities was above 15%, prompting the respective district administrations to categorise the areas as critical spread (D category) zones.

Mr. Vijayan ordered the district administration to tighten restrictions in such zones. The administration would demarcate critical-spread spots as micro-containment zones with strict restrictions on public activity. It would allow only one route for ingress and egress into such hotspots and persuade residents to sequestrate themselves at home. Only essential services could open.

The government would allow only essential services in such localities. Everything else would remain shut.

Family clusters

The administration was worried that household-level clusters could upend the State’s pandemic control.

Hence, Mr. Vijayan ordered ward-level committees to work intimately at the neighbourhood level. The local bodies should mandatorily shift infected persons who lack adequate space to isolate themselves from the rest of the family at home to nearby first-line treatment centres or hospitals without any delay.

Mr. Vijayan ordered the police to prevent cross-border traffic of plantation workers in Idukki. Instead, estate managements should persuade labourers to bivouac at their workplace and provide them lodging.

The pandemic expert committee was also reportedly averse to trader’s clamour for lifting weekend lockdowns, extending business timings and allowing non-essential shops to open on all days immediately.

Traders’ demand

The Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samathi had informed the government that traders could ill afford to lose the Onam festival business. Onam sales account for more than half of their annual revenue. The retail sector had lost two shopping seasons to flood and later COVID-19.

An official said any further relaxation would hinge on lowering the TPR and increasing the vaccinated population. The State would soon come up with region-specific measures to protect lives without impairing livelihood, he added.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 1:11:16 PM |

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