Goa State Industries Association president Damodar Kochkar said on Monday that, Goa cannot afford to go for a complete lockdown but at the same time, with the health sector struggling and cases rising, a partial lockdown or stringent restrictions may help the state cope with the pandemic and break the chain of the virus.
“Many still do not have a guarantee that they will get their next meal without working for it. In this condition talking about frequent lockdowns would be a cruel thing,” said Kochkar. “Considering the present situation I feel, there can be a partial lockdown, but definitely not a total lockdown.”
Kochkar said that India is not a developed and rich country to sustain lengthy or frequent lockdowns, which throw daily wage workers and MSMEs into jeopardy. He said that the government and people were equally to blame for the situation that Goa and the country finds itself in.
“Locals celebrated weddings, had parties, exchanged handshakes and hugs. Now when infections have increased, it is these very people who are shouting for lockdowns. The government is also responsible. It should have avoided unwarranted events. It should have visualised the coming of the second wave of the virus and created adequate infrastructure, like oxygen plants in hospitals,” said Kochkar.
He said that it is important for the state to ensure that manufacturing activity continues and that essential services and grocery stores continue to operate. “MSMEs just cannot pay their employees and other overheads without working for it,” Kochkar said.
He said that it is time for the state government and for people to learn to live with the virus by taking adequate precautions and creating capabilities. The industrialist said that irresponsible behavior and the “foolishness” of a few had made the country suffer.
Meanwhile, GFP said that the state needs a 15-day complete lockdown to prevent further transmission of the novel coronavirus. GFP president Vijai Sardesai said that an immediate lockdown, which minimizes human interaction, will also help reduce the load on Goa’s healthcare system, which is struggling to cope.
Sardesai cited US immunologist and director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci as he justified the call for a 15 day lockdown. He has also appealed to people to pressurize their local MLAs to go for an immediate lockdown.
However in view of the escalating pandemic situation in the country, Goa has imposed further restrictions asking casinos, bars, sports complexes, river cruises, gyms, schools, colleges and weekly markets to remain closed from 6 am on May 3 till 7 am on May 10, however, essential services will be allowed.
The state government has closed schools, colleges, and educational institutes amid a surge in Covid-19 cases. However, exams will be conducted as already planned. As per the protocol, restaurants will be allowed 50 percent occupancy, while fish markets, municipal or panchayat markets will remain functional with restricted capacity. Funeral processions can be conducted with a maximum of 20 persons.
According to the order, social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural functions will be banned except for the events which are held with the permission of the government with 50 or fewer people.
Goa on Saturday recorded 2,303 new Covid-19 cases, taking its caseload to 93,355 while 54 deaths pushed the toll to 1,222, as per official data.