In an effort to ensure the public strictly follow the lockdown rules and have access to all essentials while sitting at home, the Kerala government made a slew of announcements on Wednesday, including free ration for all cardholders, cooked food for the elderly citizens and people with disabilities and a new ordinance.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that aged persons and those with disabilities should not go without food due to the lockdown. Caregivers of these people should be allowed to continue providing food and essential services to them even during lockdown.
â€śLocal authorities would be responsible for taking food to those in home quarantine and are not able to get food otherwise. The Municipality and Panchayat authorities should also have community kitchens, to offer food to the aged, elderly and persons with disabilities in their locality,â€ť the Chief Minister added.
In order to ensure that nobody in the state starves during the lockdown period, the 10 kilograms of rice offered to families has been increased to 15 kgs. A kit of groceries will also be given. The Food Corporation of India has assured that there is food stock for eight more months in their 25 godowns, the CM said.
This is also the time of harvest in Palakkad, Thrissur, Kottayam and Alappuzha. It should happen now too, or rains could destroy the fields. So farming, too, shall be seen as an essential service.
Welfare pension would be distributed from March 27 and would benefit 54 lakh people.
There will be talks with other state governments to ensure continuous supply of vegetables. The CM also suggested that people could use the quarantine time to grow some vegetables at home.
Special accommodation arrangements would be made for the transgender people.
People in the movie industry have offered their vehicles for essential services since no shooting is happening now. Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) secretary B Unnikrishnan informed the CM.
Service of retired doctors would also be used in these times.
During the lockdown, exceptions would be made when it is to take patients to hospitals, which may need more than one person as bystanders.
The new ordinance
Stepping up its efforts against COVID-19 pandemic, the state cabinet formulated a new ordinance titled Kerala Epidemics Diseases 2020 on Wednesday, which allows state governments more powers to contain the spread of a contagious disease, in the event of an epidemic.
The ordinance, which is pending sanction from the Governor, empowers the government to close state borders, exercise crowd control at religious and public places, limit public transport, monitor social activities involving individuals, public and social groups.
â€śIt is important to stay at home these days. Roads and other public places should not have people gathering. Strict measures will have to be taken if this is not followed. There should be an identity card or pass in person when you get out. The police will inquire of others why they have stepped out. You can get out only for unavoidable reasons, such as buying medicine, reaching out to the older people in the family, and so on. But you need to avoid casual outings such as friendly visits and so on. District police heads would be responsible for this,â€ť Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, announcing the strict measures during the lockdown.
The CM also spoke of those who were away from their native places and in other states, but not able to come home during the lockdown. He advised that it is best to wait out the 21 days before travelling home.
Some people who had reached Palakkad, crossing borders, are staying at the Victoria College but they are in a group and not isolated. This is not advisable, Pinarayi said.
He recalled the times when people were asked to stay away from homes during floods and many were reluctant to do so. Now the opposite is being asked, and if thatâ€™s not followed, the result would be regrettable.
These interventions may create certain issues, which should be handled by the district collector and other officials, Pinarayi said.
In order to manufacture sanitisers and eight types of drugs for COVID-19 in the state, the raw material will be procured by Kerala state Drugs and Pharmaceuticals.