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Kerala enters a new phase of COVID-19 mitigation

More relaxations are likely from August 11 even as the virus spread remained high in 266 wards spread across 52 local self-government jurisdictions.

Kerala has narrowed COVID-19-impelled weekend lockdown to Sunday alone.

It marks a new phase of pandemic management that strives to balance pestilence control and economic revival by restricting stringent regulations to hotspots.

More relaxations are likely from August 11 even as the virus spread remained high in 266 wards spread across 52 local self-government jurisdictions.

The administration has imposed triple lockdown curbs on the high spread localities. Only essential services are allowed in the micro containment zones.

Police have fenced off the hotspots and permitted entry and exit only through a single corridor.

Meanwhile, thousands of Hindus observed Karkada Vavu Bali at their homes after the government banned customary crowds at temples, beaches and bathing ghats, given the unrelenting pandemic situation.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is scheduled to review the pandemic situation again on Tuesday.

.The government has signalled that it would allow air-conditioned shopping malls to open from Wednesday.

However, customers should mandatorily furnish an immunity certificate for entering the precincts.

It could be proof of COVID-19 vaccination, a current RTPCR negative certificate or medical authentication of having recovered from the pestilence recently.

Patrons should wear double masks and remain physically distanced from each other.

The management should assign a minimum of 25 square feet of space for an individual and discourage crowding.

Staff should be fully vaccinated. They should examine the body temperature of clients at the entrance and record their name and mobile phone number. Violators would risk fine and closure.

Sectoral magistrates and police would closely monitor the supermarkets to ensure they do not turn into superspreader locations.

The government might also allow sporting activities to resume after Onam. The administration is also under duress to open cinema theatres and allow cultural events.

The lockdown regulations have also negatively impacted the filming of movies and television serials. Street food vendors, hair salons, beauty parlours, spas have also demanded they be allowed open for business.

The government has lifted the weekend lockdown on August 15 and 22, given Independence Day and Onam.

An official said further ease of restrictions would hinge primarily on the pace of vaccination. An estimated 42.14 per cent of the State’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Nearly 18% have received both doses.

The Health Department is poised to launch a month-long intense drive from Monday to ramp up vaccination.

The programme will focus on inoculating final year degree and postgraduate students and lower and upper primary school teachers to open colleges and schools at least by September middle.

The government will supply 20 lakh doses at its procurement price to private hospitals. The State has also encouraged the public and private sector and charitable organisations to conduct vaccination drives. It hopes to vaccinate citizens above 60 years of age by August 15.

The government will also evaluate the impact of the lifting of the weekend lockdown and opening of malls on the pandemic. It has allowed tourist resorts to permit fully vaccinated customers. However, they should not organise group recreational activities, open swimming pools or bars for guests, allow communal dining or conduct cultural events.