Kerala limping back to normality as new pandemic rules kick-in

Harsh restrictions on civic life remain in force in at least 80 local bodies

Kerala appeared to limp back to normality as a new set of COVID-19 regulations kicked in on Thursday.

Television channels celebrated the resumption of Kochi Metro Rail as a sign of better days ahead.

However, harsh restrictions on civic life remained in force in at least 80 local bodies.

The average test positivity rate (TPR) remained unyieldingly high at more than 18% in those areas. The regions are under triple lockdown. Law enforcement has quarantined entire neighbourhoods and allowed only essential services.

A less severe lockdown continued in 316 local bodies where the TPR is between 12 and 18%. Semi-lockdown situation prevailed in 473 local bodies, which reported an average TPR between 6 and 12%.

The government has partially eased travel, retail, and commerce restrictions in 165 local bodies where the average TPR is reassuringly below 6 %.

The spectre of a third wave loomed. Public health experts have warned that highly transmissible Delta variants of the virus are in circulation in Kerala. They can trigger another surge in infections.

Hence, the police continued to enforce the mask and physical distance mandate across Kerala. They have placed severe restrictions on inter-State travel.

Vigilance is high in neighbourhoods bordering Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Kerala has closed liquor shops near inter-State borders to prevent the to and fro movement of people.

The administration has warned that disease transmission was on the rise in households and remained a cause of worry. Hence, families should not lull themselves into a false sense of security and not take COVID-19 precautions at home. Households having infected persons should quarantine in their entirety.

The government has asked ward level committees to enforce quarantine regulations strictly. The police would move violators to secure first-line treatment centres.

The weekend lockdown would continue. Gymnasiums, shopping malls, beaches, walking circuits, swimming pools, indoor sports complexes, stadiums, cricket and football turfs remained closed. However, the government has allowed outdoor exercise, including physically distanced games.

It has revised the protocol for the burial of COVID-19 dead. Families could now take the mortal remains of their kin home to perform religious rituals for an hour.

The administration has also allowed temples, churches and mosques to admit worshippers in a regulated manner in low and moderate spread localities. The managements could permit 15 people at a time. They should impose the mass and physical distancing mandate.

A high-level committee chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Chief Secretary V. P. Joy will review the restrictions on July 6.

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