Extending curfew will hit daily wage earners - President | Sunday Observer

Extending curfew will hit daily wage earners - President

8 November, 2020
Random checks being conducted by STF mobile units in Pettah during the quarantine curfew. (Pic Rukmal Gamage)
Random checks being conducted by STF mobile units in Pettah during the quarantine curfew. (Pic Rukmal Gamage)

Quarantine curfew was imposed in the Western province on October 30 to limit the movement of people during the long weekend. However, a large number of people fled the province before curfew was imposed and the Police had to launch a separate mission to trace those who disobeyed the law and self-quarantine them for 14-days at locations they were residing.

Amid such a scenario curfew rules were imposed under police and military inspection. Initially curfew was imposed only up to November 2 but then it had to be extended till November 9 considering the fast spread of the virus.

Low income earners

“The virus is spreading fast,” Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva told the media as the reason to impose curfew.

Since re-imposing curfew a growing concern was the livelihood of daily wage earners. However, as a remedy, the government commenced providing Rs. 5,000 to all low-income families during the curfew. In addition to that a Rs 10,000 worth pack of essential items was given to every family in the Western province who were under self-quarantine.

Nevertheless, the Western province, home to 4.2 million people is the largest contributor to the Gross Domestic Production of the country (42%). Also, the Province accounts for over 30 percent of the country’s industrial production and 55 percent from the service sector. Therefore extending curfew in the province would lead to a severe economic crisis in the country, experts said.

“People who earn a monthly salary will not be affected even if curfew is extended but the ones who are affected most are the daily wage earners. It will take almost a year for them to recover if the lockdown continues for 10 days. All should understand this”.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made this statement during a discussion with the Presidential Task Force on Covid–19 Prevention held at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday (5). While reiterating the stance of the government to lift curfew in the Western province tomorrow he urged the officials to step up surveillance on home quarantine.

There were several key decisions taken at this meeting concerning the reopening of the Western province and the entire country from tomorrow (9) onwards. The President advised the Task Force to declare areas as isolated if infected persons were found in the community. Also, the importance of focusing on estates and flats was discussed in length during the meeting.

It was also decided to restrict activities at economic centres to wholesale trade. Economic centre and other trade activities should fall in line with all health guidelines.

The government has taken steps to continue operations at the Free Trade Zone in Katunayake. However, the President instructed the officials to carry out random and continuous PCR tests in the trade zone.

The Central Bank decided to extend the grace period for another three months to loans under the ‘Saubhagya Covid-19’ loan scheme. Initially, the loan scheme was introduced to businesses affected by the pandemic to meet working capital needs, with a 24 months payback time and a six- month grace period. As per the decision of the Central Bank businesses will be granted another three months grace period to repay loans. Those who wish to advance this grace period must submit a written request to the respective bank.

New guidelines

Issuing a press release on Friday, the Ministry of Health declared four levels of alert as follows;

Alert level 1: Cases reported are only those coming from outside the country (detected in quarantine centres); no clusters.

Alert level 2: One cluster of cases

Alert level 3: Several clusters in different districts

Alert level 4: Cases appearing with no connection to any cluster – Community transmission

As the Covid-19 situation of the country is subjected to change from time to time, the Ministry has introduced new guidelines for different sectors to adhere according to the prevailing level (four levels of alert) of Covid in the country.

During this new normal, public transport, shopping malls, supermarkets, private taxi services, government offices, courts, schools and pre-schools, financial institutions, open markets, street vendors, construction sites, beauty salons need to strictly adhere to the guidelines.

If the country reaches alert level three, schools, preschools, day-care, cinema, carnivals, swimming pools, spas and homestays will be closed. Also if the country reaches level four the level of community transmission beauty salons, shopping malls, textile shops, laundries, tailor shops, gymnasiums will be closed until the situation gets better.

Covid-19 cases

The number of Covid-19 cases in Sri Lanka reached 13,000 with 30 deaths yesterday morning. As per the information shared by the Epidemiology Unit, 5,754 patients are still receiving treatments at 54 hospitals while 7,186 have fully recovered.

The most shocking incident last week was the death of five Covid-affected patients in a single day. Around 3,179 Covid patients were identified since October 30 while the Western province was under quarantine curfew.

According to statistics over 84,000 people have been placed in house quarantine as of Friday evening. Besides around 2,400 are in 30 military quarantine centres.