Kerala

Sunday lockdown stagnates life

Life seemed to reach a disheartening standstill for the second consecutive weekend on Sunday, with the State government allowing only essential services in a bid to bridle the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will chair an online pandemic monitoring committee meeting remotely from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday to possibly weigh more prevention measures to slow down the waxing epidemic.

Indefinite clampdown

Currently, five districts have limited gatherings at social events to a maximum of 20 people. The administrations have also restricted a range of recreational activities for an indefinite period. The constraints have dampened daily life and retarded its vibrant social tempo.

Cinema theatres, gymnasiums and swimming pools remain closed until further notice in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts after public health experts classified them as Category C (Threshold 3) districts. There is also a temporary ban on visitors to religious places of worship in the regions.

Baseline

The committee relies on hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions as the point of reference or baseline for classifying districts into three categories. It will take a call to bring more districts into the highly restrictive Category C grade.

Inputs from the COVID-19 ‘war room’ at the Secretariat would decisively impact the administration’s pandemic control measures.

The cell monitors, in real-time, COVID-19 hospitalisations, the availability of hospital beds, caregivers, paramedical staff, ICU beds, ventilators, and supplementary oxygen cylinders to prevent the surge of infections from overwhelming the State's finite health infrastructure.

Economic impact

An official said the government was acutely aware that harsher restrictions and weekend lockdowns could decimate small businesses and imperil the livelihood of many, especially daily wage workers.

The low mortality and hospitalisation rate has added credence to the State's projection that the pandemic might abate after mid-February. Such an eventuality might prevent the State from edging towards the dark days of earlier lockdowns. Universal vaccination has proven to be an effective bulwark against the worst ravages of the disease.

The official said the administration appeared optimistic that it could restore normality by the end of February.

The Sunday lockdown rendered conventionally busy localities devoid of activity. Roads, markets and shopping centres remained relatively deserted.

The police fanned out in strength across the State to discourage inessential travel and clustering in public places. They turned back travellers without affidavits attesting to their reason for travel. However, the police allowed those reporting for work and journeying to hospitals and vaccination clinics to pass unimpeded.

Private buses, autorickshaws and taxi cabs remained off the road. Bars remained shuttered. Restaurants and hotels disallowed customers but permitted takeaways and home delivery. But toddy shops were allowed to operate since the government reckoned toddy tapping a traditional sector.

Fish, meat, milk, vegetable, fruit and provision stores, medical shops, laboratories, clinics and diagnostic services remained open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Newspaper distribution and news operations continued unimpeded.


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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 3:59:43 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/sunday-lockdown-stagnates-life/article38349485.ece