A day after the Supreme Court chided the Kerala government for relaxing COVID-19 restrictions during Bakrid, the government has decided to implement a complete state-wide lockdown for the weekend. In a government order dated July 20, the State Disaster Management Authority issued guidelines for strict implementation of the restrictions, starting from July 22.
Among these is a direction to the Health and Family Welfare Department to do a mass coronavirus testing campaign on July 23, with a target of three lakh tests across the state. In the mass testing campaign, special focus is to be given to districts where the seven day average Test Positivity Rate (TPR) is above 10%. The number of daily tests should also be enhanced urgently, said the order.
The categorisation of Local Self Government areas as per the TPR will follow the same rules as before; places with a TPR of 5% or less will come under category A, the places with TPR between 5% and 10% in category B, those with TPR between 10% and 15% in category C, and the rest in category D. Exemptions and restrictions which had been in place in the respective categories prior to the Bakrid relaxations will continue, said the order.
The three-day relaxations for Bakrid allowed opening of shops and extended curfews in areas with less TPR. These were announced after traders and workers complained against the continuous lockdowns affecting their livelihood badly. However, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday that the government's choice to give in to pressure from traders showed a 'sorry state of affairs'.
Kerala has had a record number of cases being reported every day for several weeks, even after the rest of the country saw a decline. The TPR continued to stay above 10 despite the lockdown in place and increased vaccination. On Wednesday, 14,131 new cases were reported with a TPR of 11.97.