Kerala on Tuesday braced itself to combat the threat of a resurgent coronavirus. It will observe a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. till May 3.
Law enforcement has warned that those who are out of doors during curfew would risk punishment.
Hotels will down shutters at 9 p.m. There will be no home deliveries after 9 p.m.
The police said there is no restriction on vehicular traffic at night. However, passengers should have a valid reason to travel during the eight-hour lockdown.
The police would curb non-essential travel. Law enforcers would not demand RT-PCR negative certificates for inter-district travel.
Chief Secretary V.P. Joy is scheduled to chair a top-level meeting on April 20 to streamline the State’s pandemic response.
According to officials, extending the work from home option to government employees is on the table. So are ramping up testing and vaccination.
The State has moved the Centre for more vaccine doses, given its relatively high immunisation rate and arguably zero wastage of vials.
Kerala has also moved to cash in on the Centre’s new vaccine strategy by sourcing a sufficient number of vials directly from manufacturers. Its facing vaccine shortages in several districts.
The meeting will also take stock of the available number of hospital beds, ventilators, medical oxygen cylinders, anti-viral drugs and steroids.
With the test positivity rate hovering at 15.63 and the number of active cases crossing 1 lakh, the government is pushing the health department to speedily verify whether the “double mutant” variant of the virus is driving the current surge in the State. The administration has asked the health authorities to test a minimum of 3 lakh people in the next 48 hours (April 21 and 22).
Malls and cinema halls have to down shutters at 7.30 p.m. The restriction has thrown the release of several productions into disarray. Late-night shows are money spinners for the industry. Early closure will hurt the film business.
An official said the government had imposed only minimum restrictions. Nevertheless, the limitations on everyday life might precipitate a reduction in economic activity.
An official said the trade-off was painful but necessary. The threat of the so-called second coronavirus wave was real. The government would be constrained to tighten civic life further if the virus surge did not recede by May 3, he added.
Several private bus operators have kept their vehicles off-road, citing loss. Many businesses were poised to shed employees, anticipating an economic downturn. For one, scores of wayside eateries, which anticipated Ramzan business after fast, have closed shop.
The police would work in tandem with sectoral magistrates to ensure the mask and social distancing mandate. They would close down the commercial establishment that violates the pandemic protocol.
The government has exempted medical stores, hospitals, fuel stations, night shift employees, milk vendors, newspapers and electronic media from the curfew.
Notably, the government has decided not to allow crowded merrymaking on Assembly election counting day on May 2.
The government has also allowed district magistrates to assign State employees for COVID-19 duty.
The government has imposed the curfew alongside a slew of other restrictions.
It has postponed University and PSC examinations. It has banned communal feasting and big crowds at weddings and other religious and social events. Teachers have to shift private tuitions online.
Bus operators should not admit passengers above the legal seating capacity. Restaurants should limit guests to half the seating capacity.