Work from home may be the norm for several working professionals across the country but for those holding the top post in the state, this isnâ€™t possible - especially during a pandemic. But with the novel coronavirus spreading across states, Chief Ministers in south India have had to take a number of precautionary measures; more so, as a number of employees working in government offices have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
TNM takes a look at what measures Chief Ministers across southern states have taken to reduce their exposure to the novel coronavirus.
Andhra Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has been largely working out of his camp office at Tadepalli in Amaravati. There was reportedly a scare in early June when four persons residing near the camp office tested positive for the novel coronavirus. However, officials cordoned off the area, and carried out random testing of residents in the neighbourhood.
Sources tell TNM that although there have been no changes in the 47-year-old CMâ€™s working hours or visitor rule, a temperature check is carried out for all those entering the camp office. The wearing of masks is also mandatory for all.
Jagan was also tested for COVID-19 a few weeks ago, and was tested recently ahead of the two-day Budget session of the Andhra Legislative Assembly that began on June 16. The CM tested negative on both occasions.
All MLAs and MLCs attending the budget session were also asked to undergo a COVID-19 test. While most legislators wore a mask during the session, Jagan and some YSRCP Ministers were seen without a face mask. Arrangements were, however, made to ensure physical distance between the legislators.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has restricted his meetings to his official home-office Krishna and four rooms in Vidhana Soudha. Sources say, the 77-year-old leader is restricted to meeting not more than 150 people per day. He holds meetings in room 313, a meeting hall in the Vidhana Soudha. Conferences including video conferences take place in room 334. In addition, he holds Cabinet meetings in the Cabinet hall and also visits his designated chamber in Vidhana Soudha.
According to the Chief Minister's Office, â€śThe rooms are sanitised before and after every meeting. There are check point desks outside these rooms, where each person entering the premises is screened for temperature, given hand sanitiser and are mandated to wear masks.â€ť The same goes for his home-office Krishna. The cars in his convoy are also sanitised after every visit between Krishna and Vidhana Soudha, and also after his visits for programs like the Mask Day held on Thursday.
Incidentally, a government employee at the Vikasa Soudha, which houses offices of some ministers, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on June 16. Following her test report, several offices were closed for sanitation while at least 15-20 of her contacts were quarantined. Other offices in the Vikasa Soudha and the Vidhana Soudha continue to operate.
For Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the number of meetings he has attended on a daily basis have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. But the 76-year-old leader has chosen to switch over to video conferencing for officials outside Thiruvananthapuram district. At the Secretariat, the administrative headquarters of the state, meetings continue to take place as before.
Meetings take place at the Chief Ministerâ€™s office with his Cabinet colleagues and bureaucrats asked to maintain physical distance, say sources. While the number of meetings have increased, those attending have not been limited. However, entry for visitors has been completely barred.
As for his daily routine, a source says Pinarayi wakes up at 5 am and leaves Cliff House, the official CM residence, by 9 am every day for the Secretariat. While he returns home for a short lunch break, he goes back to the CM office and stays until 8 pm. On Sundays, however, when Kerala witnesses a complete lockdown, the Chief Minister remains at Cliff House. Visitors are no longer allowed entry at the residence. The CPI(M) leader, who has had health ailments in the past, spends one-and-a-half hours exercising every day.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami has had to make a number of changes to his work routine after a staffer at the CM office tested positive for the novel coronavirus and subsequently passed away on Wednesday. In fact, the Tamil Nadu Secretariat in Chennai has emerged a hotspot with a number of staffers and officials testing positive in recent weeks.
EPS, as he is popularly known, has cut down his working hours at the Secretariat by half. He now works three hours from 10 am to 1.30 pm, reported Times of India. To reduce his exposure to the virus, the 66-year-old is also limiting the number of ministers and officials he meets on a daily basis. Staff of ministers and officers, who usually carry files, have also been restricted from attending meetings with the CM, reported TOI.
In addition to this, he has also limited his attendance at public events. The Chief Minister reportedly took a COVID-19 test a week ago and may take another one soon.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has been working from Pragathi Bhavan, the official workplace and residence of the CM, in Hyderabadâ€™s Begumpet. A source told TNM that appointments with the CM are vetted and only those with prior appointments are allowed to meet KCR.
In August last year, he ordered all government offices to move out of the present Secretariat premises to build a brand new one in its place, reportedly due his belief in 'vastu'. The CMO was functioning out of the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) Bhavan. However, the CM has preferred to work from Pragathi Bhavan. Moreover, the premises are sanitised frequently with hand sanitisers installed at various points. All officials have also been given masks and instructed to wear them at all times.