TAC for imposing Sec. 144, night curfew in the run-up to New Year

A view of M.G. Road in Bengaluru last year after Section 144 was imposed ahead of New Year

A view of M.G. Road in Bengaluru last year after Section 144 was imposed ahead of New Year

Celebrations that draw crowds and revellers on New Year’s Eve in the State will not be allowed this year too, if the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee’s (TAC) recommendations are implemented.

Recommending curbs for Christmas and New Year celebrations in Karnataka, TAC has advised the government to impose Section 144 from December 22 to January 2 and night curfew from December 30 till January 2 in Bengaluru and other identified cities across the State.

The committee that met on Wednesday submitted a report to the Government recommending that permission should not be granted to hold parties on roads and in public places, especially in the context of Omicron. Night curfew should be imposed from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. from December 30 to January 2, the TAC report stated.

In public places

“Gatherings/celebrations on major roads, malls, and other public places, especially at party hubs like Brigade Road, M.G. Road, Commercial Street, and surrounding areas should be prohibited. However, regular activities/business can be allowed to continue in pubs, restaurants, clubs, and other similar establishments with strict COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviour,” stated the report.

“We have recommended that all service personnel in these party hubs should be fully vaccinated and have a negative RT-PCR that is not older than 72 hours with a validity for 14 days. Only fully vaccinated people should be allowed entry in these places,” TAC sources said.

Recommending that the restrictions should be imposed not just in Bengaluru but in identified major cities across the State, TAC has said more than 200 people should not be allowed to congregate from December 22 to January 2, including in places of worship. Entry to all places of worship - churches, temples and mosques - should be allowed only for fully vaccinated people with mandatory and proper use of masks, the report stated.

Asserting that these restrictions are essential in the context of Omicron, TAC chairman M.K. Sudarshan told The Hindu on Thursday that TAC had made the recommendations taking into consideration last year’s experience and the COVID-19 situation globally. “In the context of Omicron and international arrivals, we have to be extra cautious. Although the current COVID-19 situation in Karnataka is not alarming, the next one month is crucial and immediate measures to curb transmission through international and inter-State arrivals should be initiated,” he said.

Minor spurt

C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, who is also part of TAC, said subdued new year celebrations are essential to sustain the low Test Positivity Rate (TPR) of 0.04% in the State. “We are observing a minor spurt of cases similar to what was seen in the beginning of first and second waves. In the context of Omicron, it is the right time to take all precautionary measures seriously. We have to ensure proper ventilation and entry of only fully vaccinated people in indoor and closed door meetings, failing which they can become potential super-spreading events,” he said.

Last year’s U-turn

Last year, following the Technical Advisory Committee’s recommendations, the then Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had initially announced night curfew from December 23 till January 2 from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. However, on the same day, he revised the timings from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and said it will be in force from December 24 till January 1. Subsequently, in 24 hours, the Chief Minister took a U-turn and rolled back the decision on night curfew.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 10:19:30 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/tac-for-imposing-sec-144-night-curfew-in-the-run-up-to-new-year/article37972585.ece