Govt. to unveil altered lockdown plan today

The government will possibly unveil the State’s updated roadmap to bridle the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic and resuscitate the declining economy on Wednesday.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who reviewed the pandemic situation here on Tuesday, is expected to make a statement in the Assembly under Rule 300 to showcase the State’s new plan of action. By one account, Health Minister Veena George might join Mr. Vijayan.

The details of the closed-door meeting remained largely secret. Top officials attended the conference.

It took place against the backdrop of an unrelentingly high average test positivity rate, complaints about vaccine shortage, the resurgence of the disease in Malappuram, and the spectre of a third wave.

Nevertheless, the meeting triggered intense speculation that the government would further ease the restrictions on trade, life, mobility, and outdoor activities ahead of Onam.

Traders expressed optimism that the government would allow the retail and service sectors to function on weekdays and Saturdays and were hopeful that the government would limit weekend lockdown to Sunday or lift it for good.

Norms may change

The decision to impose strict lockdown restrictions in local bodies might henceforth hinge on the actual number of patients in the locality rather than the test positivity rate.

Traders, hoteliers, street food vendors, and restaurateurs hope for extended business timings to mitigate crowding. They have also sought lifting of the night curfew. Textile shops, jewellery, beauty parlours, salons, gymnasiums, resorts, bar hotels, swimming pools, spas, and tourist resorts are also waiting for some respite from the pandemic curbs to cash in on Onam.

An official said the meeting also weighed whether hotels, shopping malls, cinema halls and related service sectors could admit fully vaccinated customers if they produced proof and observed the protocol.

Officials also discussed the possible opening of educational institutions and the conduct of examinations. The mask and physical distancing mandate would endure. The government seemed unsure how far it could dial down the curbs on social life.

SC ire

Onam entailed increased home visits, fraternising and commuting, and long-distance travel. Both activities risked spreading the contagion. The government had earned the Supreme Court’s ire for lifting pandemic restrictions during Bakrid. It did not want to risk the court’s criticism on the same count twice, he said.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 9:49:18 PM |

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