The issue of whether domestic help (house helpers, cooks, drivers etc.) be allowed to continue working in flats during the lockdown has become quite a contentious subject over the last few days.
Many apartment residents are complaining that it is putting them to a lot of inconvenience. Some people have even approached the police to take action against managing committees of apartment associations that have restricted entry to domestic help.
In this backdrop, my views on this contentious issue are as follows:
- Every passing day, I am seeing more people dying around me, including in apartment complexes. The inconvenience of not having domestic help for 14 days is not even comparable to the pain of seeing deaths due to COVID around us.
- My view is that the lockdown should have been imposed at least 10 days back and we are already late in this whole process. The only way to break the chain and make Bengaluru COVID-free is through all citizens working together. It needs collective will to defeat COVID entirely. If that means, each of us have to put with inconvenience for some time, so be it. There should not be any compromises on that. As I mentioned earlier, saving lives comes above any other inconvenience that we have to go through.
- A few people are claiming that the government order allows domestic help inside apartments, which I do not agree with. Clause 9 (Movement of people) of the G.O. on COVID articulates who can move out and for what purpose. I reproduce 9(d): “Movement of officers / personnel travelling with valid ID Card issued by their
Organization / Institution to the place of work and back for permitted activities in these guidelines.”
- House helpers / cooks / drivers do not figure in “Permitted Activities”. People cannot be stepping out of their homes except for travelling for work under “Permitted Activities” with a valid ID card or for activities that are allowed, like buying groceries from 6 am to 10 am, for vaccination, for emergency purposes etc. For anything else, we should not be stepping out of our homes.
- There are some who say that domestic help can come to the apartment if they live nearby and can come walking. This does not hold any water at all and defeats the purpose and essence of the lockdown. They are just not supposed to get out of their home at all, whether by walk or by taxi or by any means of transport. This holds good even if they live next door.
In summary, my view is that it is time for managing committees and residents of apartments to impose stringent restrictions and curbs on the movement of people including domestic help. Apartments should not be allowing house helpers, cooks, maids and visitors during the lockdown period.
My personal appeal to all apartment residents is that we need every citizen to do his / her bit to beat the pandemic. We all need to work together to beat COVID collectively.
Let’s follow strict guidelines. Let’s exercise self-restraint. Let’s undergo inconvenience, if required. Let’s undertake to beat COVID together. Let’s rebuild Bengaluru.
[This article is based on a press release, and has been published with minimal edits]