Kerala in semi-lockdown, bars temporarily shut as fight against COVID-19 intensifies

M Sarita Varma
Kerala, Kasargod district, Covid-19, IMFL, PSU, Covid-19 infections, Pinarayi Vijayan

Only the Kasargod district, the ground zero of Kerala’s Covid-19 spread, will have a complete lockdown, the state government has decided. Bars in the state will also temporarily close down, in addition to the semi-lockdown that the nine Covid-hit districts have been experiencing since the previous week.

The state government, however, is reluctant to close down its own string of IMFL (Indian made foreign liquor) outlets, which net an annual revenue of Rs 14,508 crore. Two state PSUs-Bevco and Consumerfed-run 301 IMFL outlets.

"Bevco liquor outlets will take several restrictions to avoid thronging of people. We need to avoid the flow of illicit liquor too," chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

A high-level committee of healthcare experts and top bureaucrats, chaired by the chief minister, has decided that bars will be temporarily shut to check the spurt of Covid-19 infections. The state has 598 bars and 357 beer parlours.

The Kasargod district, which accounts for nearly one-fourth of the state’s 67 Covid-19 cases (as on Monday), will go for a complete trade shutdown, including IMFL shops. "After video-conferencing with office bearers of trade organisations, arrangements will be made for home delivery of essential items, as and when required," Vijayan said.

Severe restrictions will be imposed in Covid-affected districts like Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kannur, as per the decision taken at the high-level meeting on Monday.

"Anticipating a community outbreak, we are ready with a Plan C, preparing 3,028 isolation beds and harnessing a mix of private and public hospitals. In Plan B, 1,408 isolation beds have been readied. As of now, it is the 1,000-bed Plan A that is being rolled out," state health minister KK Shylaja told FE.

The state government last week had assigned district collectors with discretionary powers to clamp Section 144 if the situation demands it.
On Sunday, Kerala actively participated in the ‘Janta Curfew’. But, on the same day, the state government also clarified that Kerala would not go for a total shutdown in seven districts as directed by the Centre.