KOCHI: Amid the raging controversy over the Kerala government’s insistence on paid quarantine for returning expats, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday indicated he was in no mood to reconsider the decision. And, he is on a solid ground as the fact is that Kerala is just following the central government’s guidelines for international arrivals, which say the returnees have to undergo quarantine at their expense.
“The government’s policy is to collect the expense for institutional quarantine from those who can afford it. The poor won’t be affected,” said Pinarayi, hours after leaders of various opposition parties, who participated in an all-party meeting with him, as well as various NRK welfare organisations demanded that the decision be revoked.
Claiming that a large section of the expatriates could afford paid institutional quarantine, Pinarayi, however, assured that concessions can be given to those who cannot afford to pay. He said a government order in this regard will make things clearer. He also said his government was always in favour of home quarantine, and the state is in discussion with the Centre on allowing home quarantine for all expatriates.
The guidelines issued by the Centre on Sunday stipulate that returnees from abroad have to give an undertaking that they are willing to go into quarantine at their expenses. “Before boarding, all travellers shall give an undertaking that they would undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days -- seven days’ paid institutional quarantine at their own cost, followed by seven days of isolation at home with self-monitoring of health,” says the first of the 15 rules in the set of guidelines.
Cheruthoni native Sibichan Abraham, an activist among the Malayali expat community in Saudi Arabia, said as per the central government rules, air tickets could be booked only if overseas returnees agree to pay the quarantine facilities.“This is not an issue at all for most overseas returnees. The political parties here have made a big issue of it,” he said..(With inputs from T’Puram bureau)