Press Release: 18-05-2020

Kerala announces relaxations in concurrence with lockdown guidelines
 
Thiruvananthapuram, May 18: With the national level lockdown extended till May 31, Kerala today announced a host of exemptions in concurrence with lockdown guidelines issued by the Central Government.
 
Briefing the media, Chief Minister, Shri Pinarayi Vijayan said, “We will be following the general lockdown conditions in total but will make certain exemptions based on the state-specific requirements. All educational institutions will remain closed but online distance education will be encouraged. Public transport will be allowed within the district with 50% occupancy and no standing passengers. Except in containment zones, there will be no restrictions within the district. Inter-district travel is allowed between 7 am and 7 pm. There is no need for a pass but they will have to carry an identity card. At the same time, travel to far districts would still require a pass.”
 
Students, family members, relatives and workers stranded before the lockdown will be allowed to travel to join their families. In four-wheelers, driver plus two passengers or three from a family will be allowed. In three-wheelers, it’s driver plus one passenger or maximum three from a family. On two-wheelers, pillion ride is allowed only for a family member.
 
Under normal circumstances, no travel will be permitted in and out of a containment zone but if there is any emergency travel, then 14 days home quarantine or institutional quarantine would be required.
 
While malls can’t open, 50% of shops within shopping complexes can open as decided by the shopping complex management in consultation with LSG bodies. Barbershops and beauty parlours can open without AC with not more than two waiting customers.
 
The Chief Minister also announced that beverages outlets would open as and when the online system is ready. Bars can sell liquor and food as a parcel. Licensed clubs can also sell liquor and food to their members. All government offices would function with 50% attendance and the other 50% would have to work from home. Till further notice, all Saturdays would be a holiday for government offices. Government employees who are not able to travel long distances should report to the District Collector near their residence within two days. They will be deployed for Covid related work within the district.
 
While marriage functions will be allowed with a maximum 50 people in attendance, other functions can have only a maximum of 10 people attending it. Funeral services can have a maximum of 20 persons. All religious places will continue to be closed
 
Sundays would continue to be a complete lockdown day. Pass will be required for any travel on Sundays. The District Disaster Management Authority can make any specific changes if required.
 
Special train for stranded Malayalees from Delhi on May 20
 
Chief Minister, Shri Pinarayi Vijayan today informed that a special non-stop train will start from New Delhi on May 20 to bring the stranded students and others from Kerala there, back to the State. “All arrangements are in place. Steps are also being taken to run special trains from Punjab, Karnataka, Andhra, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar.”
 
A special train is sanctioned by railways when there are about 1,200 passengers from a state or a particular station. “If required, we will request the railways to provide an additional stop in that State for the convenience of passengers. The state is taking the necessary action in this regard”, he added.
 
Those who wish to travel to Kerala can book the tickets online using the link on Norka Roots website (registernorkaroots.org). Those booking tickets will be informed by SMS once the train has been decided. The online registration will also be considered as a pass to enter the State.
 
38 flights from different countries to Kerala till June 02
 
Chief Minister, Shri Pinarayi Vijayan today announced that starting today until June 02, 38 flights will be operated to Kerala to bring back the Pravasi Malayalees to the state. There will be eight flights from the UAE, six from Oman, four from Saudi Arabia, three from Qatar and two from Kuwait. There will also be one flight each from Bahrain, the Philippines, Malaysia, the UK, the USA, Australia, France, Indonesia, Armenia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Ireland, Italy, Russia and Singapore. Overall, 6,530 passengers are expected to arrive in these flights.
 
Meanwhile, 5,815 people have arrived in the State from overseas till now.
 
 Kerala Covid-19 Tracker
29 new cases today, total 130 patients under treatment

 
Thiruvananthapuram, May 18: Chief Minister, Shri Pinarayi Vijayan has informed that 29 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Kerala today while no patient has tested negative.
 
Six persons from Kollam district, four in Thrissur district, three each from Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur districts, two each in Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Kozhikode and Kasargod districts, and one each from Ernakulam, Palakkad and Malappuram districts are those who tested positive. 21 of them are returnees from abroad (UAE-13, Maldives-4, Saudi Arabia-2, Kuwait-1 & Qatar-1), seven came back from other States (Maharashtra-6 & Tamil Nadu-1) and one is a case of local transmission, a health worker in Kannur district.
 
The total number of confirmed Coronavirus cases in Kerala is 630 and presently, 130 patients are under treatment in different hospitals in the State.
 
There are 67,789 persons under surveillance across the State. 67,316 are quarantined at their homes and 473 are under isolation in hospitals. 127 persons were admitted to hospitals today.
 
So far, 45,905 samples have been sent for testing and the available results of 44,681 samples are negative. As part of sentinel surveillance of high-risk group, 5,154 samples were collected tested separately and out of these, 5,082 samples have been confirmed with no infection.
 
Today, five places in Palakkad district and one place in Kollam district were declared as hotspots. There are 29 hotspots in Kerala now.

Central financial package lacks public healthcare initiatives: Kerala CM
 
Thiruvananthapuram, May 18: Kerala Chief Minister, Shri Pinarayi Vijayan has said that the five-phased financial package announcements by the Union Finance Minister had nothing for the public healthcare sector. During this Covid situation, a substantial public healthcare package was required.
 
“Many international agencies have pointed out that the package will cost an additional Rs.1.5 lakh crore from the central budget this year. Even if we add free ration and direct cash transfer to ordinary people, it would not have been 5% of the total package. The bulk of the Rs 20 lakh crores is the amount available to the banks as part of the RBI’s monetary policy and the amount that these banks are expected to pay to farmers and small businesses. The reality is that banks are wary of giving loans during today’s financial uncertainty. The Finance Minister has opened up most sectors for private investment. The public sector will be limited to some strategic areas. However, strengthening the PSUs is the Kerala Government’s policy”, he added.
 
The Kerala Government had earlier announced a package for the Micro-Small and Medium-Sized (MSME) sector. This will be implemented in conjunction with central announcements. The state government will take immediate steps to make maximum use of the credit facilities announced by the central government for MSMEs.
 
Kerala will take full advantage of the Rs 40,000 crore increase in the budget allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme. Steps have been initiated to utilize the additional refinance fund available to Kerala Bank and Kerala Grameen Bank through NABARD with the Department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Local Self Government and Self Help Groups.
 
Kerala welcomes hike in borrowing limit but unhappy with conditions
 
Chief Minister, Shri Pinarayi Vijayan has welcomed the decision to increase the borrowing limit of the States. “Kerala has been in the forefront in demanding a hike in the borrowing limit of the States and we welcome this decision but it is not as demanded. We are not happy with the conditions set for the use of the increased limits.”
 
The increase from 3 to 3.5% is without any conditions but the 1% hike from 3.5 to 4.5% is subject to conditions like reforms in the public distribution system, the ease of doing business, energy and the local bodies in the city. There will be an increase of 0.25% for each sectoral reform. And finally, the increase from 4.5 to 5.5 % can be achieved only if three out of the four reforms were implemented successfully. Kerala can get a 0.5% increase, without any conditions, on the current borrowing limit of Rs 27,100 crores (Rs 4,500 crores only).
 
“The States’ domestic revenues have fallen drastically during the Covid situation. So even if the borrowing limit is increased, it will be of limited benefit. Such preconditions are not acceptable in a federal setup”, he added.
 
Minister of Health & Social Justice, Smt K K Shailaja; Revenue Minister, Shri E Chandrasekharan, and Chief Secretary, Shri Tom Jose IAS were also present during the briefing.