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Please, no more lockdowns, Kerala industry leaders urge CM Pinarayi Vijayan

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The sudden spike in Covid cases leading to a third wave has upset entrepreneurs and traders in the state. Various industries which have been recovering from the huge losses caused by two lockdowns are scared at the thought of new restrictions to check the spread of disease. Recently, the tourism industry which had big plans for New Year celebrations was hit badly as the government imposed a sudden four-day night curfew coinciding with the planned celebrations.

On Monday, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) wrote a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, urging him to avoid enforcing Covid control measures which will hamper industries that have been witnessing a momentum in the markets with a surge in demand across different sectors. The CII has requested the government to apply the lessons from the first and second phases of the pandemic and maintain a fair balance between lives and livelihoods.

“There should not be a knee-jerk reaction from the state and city administrations to re-impose curfews and mobility restrictions as deployed in the first two waves of the pandemic. Draconian lockdowns that inflicted so much damage on livelihoods and the economy during earlier waves of Covid shouldn’t be the default response,” said the CII.

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Sreenath Vishnu, Chairman, CII Kerala, said the government should avoid resorting to Covid control measures such as lockdowns which will hamper the industry and economy. Instead, steps should be taken to provide booster doses of the vaccine in a formalised way as early as possible. “Restrictions on gatherings should be continued and COVID protocol measures and behaviour should be monitored and made compulsory. Pace of vaccination should be increased to achieve 100% vaccination,” he said.

“The spice sector was badly affected from the harvest season onwards, logistics, packing materials, shipping have gone through tumultuous times. It is imperative that we are well geared to handle these exigencies through proactive preparations to mitigate any impending crisis. To ensure continuity of operations we seek everyone’s support – to support the livelihood of farmers and industry when 47% of the population is dependent on agriculture contributing over 15% of our GDP. We can ill-afford a lockdown that cripples the nation in these times when millions are barely getting back on their feet,” said Geemon Korah, Vice Chairman, CII Kerala.

Former chairman of CII Kerala Thomas John Muthoot suggested that taking considered and evidence-based decisions without panic is the need of the hour. IBS executive chairman VK Mathews also objected to the idea of lockdowns. “The IT industry has been struggling severely from attrition and resource shortage and the challenges in developing resources will be magnified if any further lockdowns or restrictions are imposed,” he said.

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