The Kerala government has decided to ease the state-wide lockdown restrictions imposed to contain the second wave of the COVID pandemic.
After 40 days of complete lockdown, the government will lift COVID-19 restrictions in a graded manner from June 17. This was announced by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in his customary sunset briefing on Tuesday.
The chief minister, however, made it clear that the government was not lifting the lockdown.
The decision to relax the restrictions was taken as the caseload of the state has come down drastically. The lockdown has been in place since May 8. On May 15, during the peak of the second wave, the number of active cases was 4,45,333. Today (June 15), it stands at 1,12,361, Vijayan said.
State-wide test positivity rate (TPR) was 27.8 per cent on May 15. Today, the TPR has come below 15 per cent in all districts except Thiruvananthapuram.
Restrictions and relaxations
As part of the 'Unlock' process, activities in industrial and agriculture sectors will be allowed everywhere. Public transport will be allowed in a limited manner. Bars and other liquor outlets will be allowed to be open from 9 am to 7 pm. There will be total lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays.
• Industrial and agriculture-related activities will be allowed everywhere. There will not be any restriction for labourers engaged in these works to travel.
• All shops selling essential commodities can be open from 7 am to 7 pm.
• Akshaya Centres can function from Monday to Friday.
• Central and state government offices, public sector undertakings, government companies, commissions, corporations and local self government institutions can function everyday with 25 per cent of the staff strength on a rotation basis.
• In the secretariat, 50 per cent of the staff have to be present on a rotation basis.
• Public transport will be allowed in a limited manner.
• Banks will be allowed to function only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
• All all-India and state-level examinations, including sports selections, are allowed.
• Restaurants can continue with home delivery/takeaway services. Dinein is not allowed.
• Outdoor sports that does not require contact will be allowed.
• Bevco outlets and bars can function from 9 am to 7 pm.
• Private companies will be allowed to operate with 50 per cent employees from June 17.
What's not allowed
• Only a maximum of 20 people are allowed to attend marriages and funerals. No other gatherings or public functions are allowed.
• Tourism, entertainment events and indoor activities causing crowds are not allowed.
• Malls are not allowed to open.
All local bodies will be designated as clusters based on the average TPR of the past seven days.
Since local bodies have been taken as the basic unit of COVID controls, there will be different levels of restrictions - from near normalcy to triple lockdown - in these local governance units based on the test positivity rates (TPR) prevailing in these areas.
In local bodies where the TPR is 8 per cent or below, all shops and commercial establishments can function on all days from 7 am to 7 pm, with 50 per cent of their existing workforce.
In local bodies where the TPR is between 8 and 20 per cent, shops selling essential goods can open daily from 7 am to 7 pm. However, other commercial establishments can function only three days - Monday, Wednesday and Friday - from 7 am to 7 pm. All shops can function only with 50 per cent of their existing workforce. The chief minister called this "partial lockdown".
Local bodies having a TPR of above 20 per cent and below 30 per cent can open only shops selling essential commodities daily. They can function daily from 7 am to 7 pm. Other shops can be open only on Friday, from 7 am to 7 pm. The chief minister called this "complete lockdown".
In local bodies with a TPR above 30 per cent, there will be triple lockdown. And in these local bodies, COVID tests will also be increased in proportion with the TPR. In other words, there will be far higher tests in local bodies with over 30 percent TPR than in areas where the TPR is low.
On every Wednesdays the district administration will review the situation in local bodies in the district and revise the classification of clusters accordingly.
The health department will give each local bodies a target on number of tests to be carried out in an area based on the TPR of that area.
If a person in a family test positive, he/she must be shifted to COVID First-line Treatment Centres (CFLTCs). If he/she wants to continue at home even after testing positive for the virus, all necessary
arrangements, including essential equipment, must be ensured.
"There are 147 local bodies with below 8% TPR in the state, while 716 local bodies have TRP between 8% and 20%. Number of local bodies with TPR between 20% and 30% is 146. As many as 25 local bodies have over 30% TPR," the chief minister said.
He also urged people to avoid crowding at public places, shops and markets.
Vijayan said the healthcare system was able to cope with the stress of the second COVID-19 wave as they were strengthened at various levels.
"We were able to give everyone the best possible treatment. Only 63 per cent of ICU beds and 32 per cent ventilators were used. The occasionally reported black fungus has also been brought under control," Vijayan said.
He said the average number of cases per day in the state is expected to fall by 16 per cent next week and the number of active cases expected to drop to 1.2 lakh by June 20 and 95,000 by June 27.