Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar on Friday said the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended that the government should ban all public, religious and political events from December 20 to January 2. This includes New Year celebrations too. However, a final decision will be taken after consultation with the Chief Minister, he said.
Although the advisory note prepared on the basis of TAC’s recommendations stated that night curfew should be imposed from December 26 till January 2, Mr. Sudhakar ruled out the possibility of ‘night curfew’ stating that the committee had not made any such recommendation.
“There is no question of any curfew as there is no need for it now. But the committee has categorically said that certain stringent restrictions should be in place from December 20 to January 2, especially in the wake of an imminent second wave. People will have to continue following all COVID-19 guidelines, maintain social distancing and avoid unnecessary large gatherings,” he said.
Responding to a question on the New Year celebrations, especially in Bengaluru, he said, “Not only Brigade Road or M.G. Road, the TAC has recommended that all kinds of events have to be banned in the entire State from December 20 to January 2 and a decision on this will be taken in consultation with the Chief Minister.”
However, weddings can go on and the guest list should not exceed 100 members. On other days, religious and political events should not exceed 200 members. All COVID-19 norms such as social distancing, mask wearing and sanitisation should be strictly followed, he said.
On the opening of pubs, bars during the 15 days (Dec. 22 to Jan. 2), the Minister said a decision would be taken after going through the TAC’s advisory note in detail and discussing it with senior officials and consulting the Chief Minister.
Ahead of a second wave, the TAC has said the next 45 days are crucial. The committee has said there is a need to take certain control measures similar to those that were in place during the lockdown and unlock phase. Until vaccination is available, all the precautionary measures and guidelines need to be followed, the Minister said.
Mr. Sudhakar said the first wave of COVID-19 in the State was declining as the positivity rate has now come down to 1.2 % and the R0 has also come down to 0.46%.
“The first wave’s curve has flattened and the gap between the first curve and the second curve is about 45-90 days, when we look at other countries or States,” he said.
The TAC has asked the State to keep all clinical facilities ready by the first week of January. “The facilities should be ready at October level (when daily cases were about 10,000 per day) in terms of beds, ICUs and ventilators both in government and private hospitals or this could be ramped up at a short notice of 2-3 days maximum,” he said.
Noting that a minimum of 1.25 lakh tests per day should continue till the end of February 2021, of which one lakh shall be RT-PCR (1:5 pooled in lab as per state protocol), the TAC has recommended fortnightly testing of all teachers, pupils, and staff in educational institutions, anganwadi staff and others by RT-PCR.
On opening of schools and pre-university colleges, the minister said a decision is likely to be taken during a meeting under the Chief Minister’s leadership in December third or fourth week.
Civic body for low-key celebrations
BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad said the civic body had already recommended a ban on year-end celebrations. “Celebrations, especially those held in public places, see a lot of people coming together. We fear that in such situations, it will be difficult to enforce mask wearing and maintaining social distance,” he said.
The commissioner also clarified that the civic body had, so far, not recommended night curfew.