Chief Minister defends further curbs on movement
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said people venturing outdoors during the lockdown should carry a signed affidavit testifying to the reason for their travel. They should produce the affidavit in the form prescribed by the government when the police challenge the reason for their presence in public places.
The Chief Minister said the outbreak situation had compelled the government to restrict further the freedom of movement to impose the social distance norms necessary for containing COVID-19. Keralites should temporarily give up social visits and leisurely travel.
He asked autorickshaw and taxi drivers to accept trips only in the event of a medical emergency or other equally pressing requirements. People should use private vehicles only if there were a dire necessity. Not more than two persons should travel in a car or van.
The Chief Minister indicated that the government would not clamp down on the sale of legal liquor through State-run outlets. However, Mr. Vijayan observed that the State did not consider “beverages” an essential item. His comment came against the backdrop of reports that the State might permit bars to allow liquor takeaways to ease the rush at Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) outlets.
Mr. Vijayan warned traders against hoarding and hiking the prices of essential commodities. The government had sensed a few attempts to exploit the lockdown to wring profits.
There was no shortage of foodgrains, edible oil, pulses, sugar, fish, meat, vegetables, milk and fruit in the State.
The government was in touch with its counterparts in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to ease to and fro movement of freight lorries.
He asked headload workers to help expedite the flow of perishables and provisions from wholesalers to retailers. Municipal authorities should move homeless people and those who sleep on pavements and shop verandahs to shelters and provide them with food and medication.
Mr. Vijayan asked elected office-bearers of local bodies to monitor the availability of essential services and goods at the panchayat and municipal ward levels. The government has strengthened its market monitoring mechanisms.
Efforts were on to bring back students marooned in other States. Courier and home delivery services should resume operations.
He reminded the public that any laxity to follow the social distancing regulations imposed by the government would tantamount to dishonouring the service of doctors, paramedics and health workers who are on the frontline in the battle against the pandemic.