CM says health care resources under great strain

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said the government would lockdown districts in their entirety if the number of new cases surged and the test positivity rate crossed a certain threshold in the locality.

The second coming of the pandemic has strained the State’s finite health care resources, he said. Hospital beds and supplemental oxygen were at a premium. Kerala has to stop the surge, he said.

The government had no option but to ratchet up restrictions on life, movement and commerce from May 4. Only essential government offices would function, Mr. Vijayan said.

Banks could open for business from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on working days. However, they should shutter mandatorily at 2 p.m. The 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew would continue. Shops could remain open till 9 p.m., he said.

No curbs on travel

There is no restriction on air or rail travel. Long-distances buses can operate. Autorickshaws, taxi cabs, hail taxi services, stage carriage vehicles and private cars can ferry passengers to and from bus terminals, airports and railway stations. However, the passengers should furnish identity and travel documents when challenged by the police. The government has banned casual travel on the weekend and from May 4 to May 9.

Vehicle repair and service centres can operate as usual.

Shops selling food, groceries, fruits, vegetables, milk, dairy products and meat and fish stalls can open. So can hotels. However, the State has banned indoor dining. The emphasis was on home delivery and takeaway.

Citizens should rely on neighbourhood shops for essentials. They should not venture much away from their homes. Optimally, people should sequester themselves indoors and venture out only in the event of a contingency.

Markets

Markets could open for business. However, market committees should ensure that vendors maintain a physical distance of at least 2 m from each other. They should wear masks and gloves mandatorily.

Cinema and television serial companies should wind up production for now. The State aimed to halt activities that would necessitate people to gather. Mr. Vijayan urged the public to postpone celebratory events, suspend non-essential travel and wear two masks in public. People should mandatorily remain indoors on vote counting day on May 2. The government has banned public jubilation.

The government has shifted gear from counselling to strict enforcement. The District Magistrate, Kollam, shuttered a pawnshop that admitted customers in considerable numbers.

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