Now, as COVID cases continue unabated in Kerala, the State has reportedly mulled the idea of imposing another spell of total lockdown. While this, many feel, would help curb the spread of coronavirus, Thomas John Muthoot, the Chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)'s Kerala State Council is of the opinion that the enaction of such a drastic move would inflict a toll far harder to enumerate on our already-limping economy.
In sobering clarity, he urges Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to reconsider any intention that the State may have to reinstate the lockdown.
"Ninety-five per cent of all business in Kerala falls under the MSME category. Many of these establishments are only just recovering from the aftermath of the first lockdown. Any more days of lockdown would imperil their very existence," a CII statement reads.
In his letter to the CM, Muthoot argues against the implementation of lockdown as a means to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
It has been six months since the first coronavirus cases were reported in the country. It is to be assumed that a certain COVID-fatigue has set in. Now, people are less shocked, indifferent even, to the latest coronavirus news, even while it is evidently clear that it is only with their cooperation that we may combat the virus.
"The focus and onus of following these safety protocols should shift from the government to the people for effective redressal of the pandemic issue," Muthoot writes. "This can be attained by allowing routine economic activity by maintaining safety protocols. Movement of men and materials for business should also not be considered a hindrance," Muthoot adds.
He also presses on the topic of inbound migrants and expats returning from other countries, many of whom have been rendered jobless in wake of the pandemic, and suggests that the State shelve the minimum wages act to enable more employment.
"All labour officers can become business facilitators and employment exchange professionals," Muthoot adds.
Drawing from his wealth of experience, Muthoot also points out the need for a detailed guideline for the operation of each kind of economic activity for the immediate resumption of operations in our industries.
In any case, it is unlikely that Kerala will see a total lockdown implemented. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself had dismissed the need for it during a press conference on Friday. A final decision will be taken on July 27 after reviewing the COVID situation in the state.
Kerala has done remarkably well to handle the spread of the virus so far. However, the rising number of contact cases and the emergence of several large clusters have seen the total number of coronavirus cases swelling in recent days. The government has in response enforced stringent measures to curb the spread and has intensified testing in several areas as well.
CII is an industry association in India. It works to create and sustain an environment conducive to the development of India, partnering industry, Government, and civil society.