COVID-19 | Karnataka bans protests, rallies for two weeks

Review meeting defers decision on 50% seating in cinemas, and suspension of classes from 1 to 9

March 30, 2021 01:25 am | Updated 01:26 am IST - Bengaluru

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa at a meeting with Cabinet Ministers in Bengaluru on Monday

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa at a meeting with Cabinet Ministers in Bengaluru on Monday

In view of the surge in COVID-19 cases in Bengaluru, the State government has banned all protests and rallies for the next two weeks. From Tuesday, strict action will be initiated against those who do not follow COVID-19 protocols, such as wearing masks. Besides, all common area facilities in apartment complexes such as gyms, swimming pools and party halls will also be closed for the next two weeks in the city.

These decisions were taken by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa after a marathon review meeting on COVID-19 with Ministers, experts, and members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) as well as top officials of the Health Department and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike on Monday.

Although the TAC had recommended restricting seating in cinemas to 50% and suspension of classes for students from 1 to 9 and shifting to online teaching for colleges with batches/semesters that do not have ongoing exams, no decision has been taken on this.

Although the subject of 50% seating in cinemas was raised at the meeting, it was not discussed. Minister for Primary and Secondary Education S. Suresh Kumar is learnt to have sought a day’s time to discuss the subject of suspending classes with officials from his department, sources said.

Ruling out a lockdown in the State, the Chief Minister told presspersons that the surging cases in Bengaluru was definitely a cause for concern. Bengaluru Urban has been identified as one of the 46 high burden districts in the country.

The test positivity rate that stood at 0.94% in Bengaluru in February had shot up to 1.94% this month. While the city had 15,882 active cases, 6.61 lakh people had been vaccinated so far, he said.

Contact tracing

To check rapid transmission, the Health Department would rope in personnel from the departments of Revenue and Education to intensify contact-tracing measures. Officials had been asked to trace at least 30 contacts for every positive case and test them within 72 hours, the Chief Minister said.

While listing out the preparedness in government hospitals in Bengaluru Urban and Bengaluru Rural districts, he said 1,166 beds were available as of now in these hospitals.

“Measures will be initiated to increase COVID-19 beds in these hospitals based on the requirement in the coming days. We have also asked private hospitals to be ready to handle the situation, if required. Senior IAS officials have been appointed as nodal officers in each of the eight BBMP zones to coordinate COVID control measures,” he said.

Appealing to all eligible people to get vaccinated, the Chief Minister said the government would soon write to the Centre seeking permission to vaccinate all teachers. Besides, vaccination sites would also be set up in apartment complexes and densely populated areas to vaccinate the eligible, the Chief Minister added.

‘Children more disciplined at schools’

The Chief Minister said children are more disciplined at schools than at home. “In schools, they will maintain social distancing, wear masks and use sanitisers. If they are at home, they will mingle with other children for play and are at risk of getting infected,” he said.

Wedding hall owner to face action

If COVID-19 protocol violations are found at wedding halls, the owners of such halls will face action, and the hall will be shut for six months. The BBMP will soon issue a notification in this regard, the Chief Minister said.

TAC’s recommendations

In its list of recommendations submitted to the Chief Minister on Monday, the TAC clearly said that seating should be restricted to 50% (alternate seating) in cinemas for the next four weeks.

Listing this as one of the main public health measures to be strictly enforced to arrest the spread in the next four weeks, the TAC also mentioned that classes in schools ---- except X and XII standards --- should be suspended. Besides, colleges – all non-examinations batches/semesters classes should be done though online mode, except for health sciences courses.

While recommending that public transport should not exceed prescribed seating capacity, the TAC stated that strict enforcement of social distancing should be done in pubs, restaurants, shopping malls, and closed markets. There has been no decision on this.

Home isolation

The other recommendations included timely shifting of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients to COVID care centres, proper triaging and monitoring of patients under home isolation, restarting the centralised e-distribution of hospital beds, adequate supply of drugs to all hospitals, planned duty roster of healthcare workers to ensure their adequacy round the clock and efficient ambulance services.

“Notified restrictions under the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act --- like compulsory mask wearing, compliance to permitted numbers in various events like marriages, other ceremonies and functions; preventing public assemblies/celebrations in the coming days like for Ugadi, Good Friday, Ambedkar Jayanti, Ramanavami, Mahaveer Jayanti and others --- should be enforced on priority,” added the TAC’s letter of recommendations.

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