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Karnataka announces weekend curfew, bans non-essential activities

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Karnataka on Tuesday announced stringent curbs across the state closing down all shopping malls, cinema halls, religious places, bars and entertainment, while permitting only essential activities starting from 9 pm on April 21 for a period of 15 days. The new order came within hours of an all party meeting the government convened in the presence of governor Vajubhai Vala to review Covid-19 situation in the state.

As a part of “stringent containment measures,” BS Yediyurappa government extended the night curfew timing from 9 pm to 6 am to the entire state and also introduced weekend curfew from 9 pm of Friday to 6 am of Monday. Restaurants and eateries can operate but only take away services are permitted.

The list of prohibited activities also include closure of all schools and colleges, gyms, swimming pools, sports complexes, theatres and all kinds of social, political and religious gatherings.

Essential activities such as construction and industrial activities are permitted. The government will also allow standalone liquor shops and bars with take away services, banks, shops selling essential items, salons and parlours.

The latest order has directed private companies and organisations to function with minimal strength. Government offices and public corporations will function with half of their strength. Public transportation will remain unaffected and there will also be no curb on inter-state travels. “Unnecessary travel through private vehicles should be avoided,” the order signed by chief secretary P Ravi Kumar said.

The government has decided to permit marriage ceremonies but with an attendance of maximum 50 people, while 20 people can attend funerals.

Tuesday’s all party meeting saw a consensus among the Congress and the JD(S) leaders in favour of the lockdown across densely populated cities as they saw it as the only way to control the unprecedented rise in Covid cases. However, opposition leader in the assembly Siddaramaiah and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy urged the government to put cash in hands of the poor to ease out the burden on people. However, the government while imposing several new restrictions, refrained from using the term “lockdown.”

“I have asked the government to declare a health emergency. If the state decides to go for a lockdown, they must ensure handing over at least Rs 10,000 to low income groups so that they do not suffer from loss of wage. The government can manage this fund by cutting down on unnecessary expenses,” Siddaramaiah said after the meeting.

Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said the lockdown was inevitable. “Not announcing lockdown citing the financial crisis, perhaps, is a wrong step. The government should also offer some financial aid and take care of poor families,” Kumaraswamy said.

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