Home / News / India /  Kerala plans to relax lockdown restrictions in a phased manner

Kerala, a hotspot for covid-19, is drawing up a list of steps for a staggered return to normalcy after the lockdown ends on 14 April. These include wearing masks in public, limiting the number of passengers in public buses to one-third of the capacity of the vehicle, and rapid testing and screening of those who return to Kerala once the state’s borders are reopened.

A draft action plan compiled by a 17-member task force has suggested continuing with strict restrictions on commercial, industrial, religious and cultural activity in seven hotspot districts that cover half of Kerala, where the risk of infection is higher, two people privy to the talks said, requesting not to be named.

The administration does not believe that major revenue making avenues, such as tourism, alcohol, jewellery and lottery sales, will return to normal functioning anytime soon, said one of the two people mentioned above. As such, there is a risk of recession in the economy, said the person.

“The general consensus among the task force members is that essential services have to resume operations, but with restrictions. We have also suggested that non-essential services should be stopped as much as possible or allowed but with strict restrictions. Places such as theatres and religious institutions should remain shut," said the second person.

The government believes that shutting down the hotspot districts of Kasargod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, and Thiruvananthapuram may not be enough once air and train services resume as it would potentially lead to a lot of people returning to the state from high-risk locations, said the person.

If the infection graph goes up very fast, Kerala will resume the clampdown, the person said.

Kerala has been under lockdown since 23 March, a day before the nation-wide lockdown, when 28 coronavirus positive cases were reported from the state.

“Every train from everywhere in India was booked in two hours after booking opened //when/. What will happen is because of the prevalence levels in other places, there will be an inflow of a high-risk group to Kerala. Add that with those who return by air and the inflow might be so large that you cannot track them," said the first person.

The government is thinking of back-up mechanisms anticipating this crisis, including rapid testing and temperature screening to track at least 80% of those who return, who will be quarantined either at home, in hospitals or in makeshift isolation centres.

The task force has also called for closing down schools except for those holding exams in select regions, and also strictly maintaining social-distancing measures, said the second person.

The panel, formed last week and headed by former chief secretary K.M. Abraham, submitted its report to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday evening. The state government is expected to take a final call this week. The panel has members from various walks of life, including celebrated filmmaker Adoor Gopalkrishnan and the chiefs of two giant vernacular print publications, Mathrubhumi and Malayala Manorama.

Kerala has a high number of recovering patients and has been seeing fewer new patients for the last four days. Out of the 266 active patients in Kerala now, most are those who were infected through contacts or people returning from abroad who were diagnosed recently.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Subscribe to Mint Newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Recommended For You

Edit Profile
Get alerts on WhatsApp
Set Preferences My ReadsWatchlistFeedbackRedeem a Gift CardLogout