In a surprising move, the state government of Kerala decided to substantially relax the Covid-19 restrictions despite the state continuing to record a high number of daily Covid-19 tally. In a decision taken on Wednesday, the state government has allowed the functioning of all shops, markets, hotels, banks, financial institutions, factories, industries, tourist places, banks among others without any restrictions. The establishments will be able to operate fully on six days of the week between Monday and Saturday, the Indian Express reported. The decision, which comes into effect from today, will allow the establishments to operate from 7 AM in the morning to 9 PM in the evening.
However, the government clarified that only those who have been administered at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine or those who have a negative RT-PCR report not older than 72 hours will be allowed to visit these establishments. The government also said that even those people will be allowed to visit these establishments who have already contracted the deadly virus in the last one month and are able to produce the positive report attesting the same. The government order also said that even children can accompany adults to the establishments without any restrictions.
Under attack for its handling of the Covid-19 spread in the state, the state government also changed the Covid-19 strategy as the previous strategy based on the Total Positivity Rate (TPR) failed to bring the cases down. State Health Minister Veena George was quoted as saying that the restrictions at the local body levels will not be enforced on the basis of the weekly infection population ratio (WIPR). The minister explained that the WIPR will be calculated by multiplying the number of weekly positive cases traced in a local area with 1000 and dividing the product with the population of the local area. According to the new guidelines, a local area which reports WIPR of more than 10 will be put COvid-19 restrictions.
The recent relaxations announced by the government come in the wake of increased pressure from the trade bodies of the state who have borne immense losses as the state has remained in a lockdown-like situation for months. A section of traders incensed by the restrictions imposed by the government had even threatened the government that they would open their shops from the coming Saturday, the government restrictions notwithstanding. The state government also does not want to fritter away the impending Onam festival opportunity which is the biggest shopping season in the state.
The government also clarified that people won’t need to show their vaccine certificate or negative RT-PCR test for visiting essential shops, close relatives’ weddings, funerals, hospital or any other emergency. On Wednesday the state had reported a whopping 22000 new cases with a positivity rate of about 11 percent.