Kerala began a long, gradual process of lifting lockdown restrictions Thursday based on the average weekly test positivity rate in rural and urban local bodies across the state.
The state government, in an order, left it to district administrations and governing councils of panchayats, municipalities, and corporations to decide on lockdown relaxations in their jurisdictions by prescribing a detailed unlock plan based on disease transmission.
As per the order, local bodies have been categorised into four sections: ‘A’ where average TPR is below 8 percent signifying low spread, ‘B’ with average TPR between 8 and 20 per cent indicating moderate spread, ‘C’ with average TPR between 20 and 30 per cent indicating high spread and ‘D’ with average TPR above 30 per cent signifying critical spread of the virus.
Every Wednesday, district administrations would publish the list of local bodies into categories after assessing the disease spread. The health department has the responsibility of fixing testing targets for each local body based on their TPR and ensure quarantine and treatment of those testing positive. Those testing positive first in a household, where quarantine facilities are inadequate, have to be mandatorily transferred to a domiciliary care centre or a first-line treatment centre. Both kinds of centres have been established at the local body level to treat those with mild symptoms.
Until further notice, a complete lockdown will be observed on all Saturdays and Sundays across the state.
Among guidelines that are applicable to the entire state irrespective of TPR in respective local bodies, are relaxations to institutions and enterprises functioning under the essential services category. Therefore, grocery stores, ration shops, shops selling fruits, vegetables, meat and fish; and industrial, construction and agricultural activities including quarrying can function every day from 7 am to 7 pm. Central and state government offices can function with adequate staff. In the government secretariat, 50 per cent staff can work on rotation. Banks can function on alternate days, i.e., three days a week.
Retail outlets of Kerala Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) and private bars have been permitted to sell liquor on takeaway basis except in areas where stringent lockdown restrictions remain. State transport buses will also ply from Thursday in a partial manner.
In category ‘A’ local bodies’ jurisdictions, public offices can function with 25 per cent staff on rotation. All shops can function every day from 7 am to 7 pm and restaurants can have parcel and home delivery services. Nod for taxis and autorickshaws with three persons excluding the driver is also given. Outdoor sports activities with no physical contact is allowed.
In category ‘B’ local bodies, while essential shops can operate every day, other shops can function only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with limited staff. Private establishments can also function on these days with 50 per cent staff. Other relaxations as in category ‘A’ will continue here too.
In category ‘C’ local bodies, only shops catering to marriages such as those selling clothes, jewellery and footwear along with those selling student books can function only on Fridays with limited staff. Shops selling essential items can function every day.
For category ‘D’ local bodies, stringent restrictions as followed on weekends will continue through the week until the average TPR is brought down.
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