Kerala Government today announced further steps to stop the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19. These steps, listed below, will be in force till March 31, and may be extended beyond that.
- A ban on public transport
- Taxi and auto can operate subject to restrictions
- A ban on public worship, including at temples, churches and mosques
- Government-monitored isolation camps for all air travelers
- Optional camps for out-of-state workers
- Neighbors to watch over those in home quarantine
- Shops selling essential items can open, but have to close by 5 PM
- Shops selling non-essential items have to remain closed
- Private vehicles to be allowed on road
- Crowding and group travel not allowed
- Banks to open only till 2 PM
- Food items to be sent to daily wage workers who lose livelihoods
The borders of Kerala with other states have already been closed to non-essential traffic.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced the new steps after a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases.
A total of 28 new cases were detected today, up from 19 yesterday.
Out of these, 25 cases were found among those who flew in from United Arab Emirates, indicating that many more non-resident Indians who came from UAE may turn positive in coming days.
Most of those who have flown in in recent days are currently undergoing home quarantine.
The chief minister also said Kerala has not seen any instance of local origin COVID-19. A total of 92 people in Kerala now have COVID-19.
As part of the lockdown, shops selling essential items can be opened, but must be closed by 5 PM.
“All other shops have to remain closed,” he said.
He clarified that liquor shops will remain open.
Asked why the government doesn’t close liquor shops, Vijayan said previous experience has suggested that a closing of such shops leads to undesirable outcomes.
He also said that the measures will be stricter in the northern district of Kasargode, where most of the new cases are from.
Shops in the district can open only between 11 AM to 5 PM. Anyone found to be out and about in the district without good reason will be arrested, he said.
Vijayan also said Kerala Government will set up special camps to house workers who have come from places like Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha etc..
“Their current accommodations are often found to be unsuitable [to prevent the spread of infections]” Vijayan said, referring to the crowded conditions in which these workers live.
He also said these workers, if unemployed, will be provided with free food and other essentials at these camps.
Kerala is home to millions of out-of-state workers. While some of them have already left the state due to restrictions imposed in the last few days, most continue to remain.
They cannot return until train services are restarted. The central government stopped train services yesterday as a part of wide-ranging measures to check the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
All air travelers will be housed in special isolation camps, including those from domestic origins. Domestic air travel will be suspended across India from Wednesday.