The sudden enforcement of new COVID-19 guidelines, requiring a negative RTPCR report , by the Karnataka government resulted in confusion at the inter-State check posts particularly along the border with Maharashtra with long lines of vehicles piling up.
The revised guidelines were issued in the wake of a surge in cases in neighbouring States.
The new guidelines announced on July 30 night, mandate that travellers to the State carry a fresh RTPCR negative report unlike the earlier system when a vaccination certificate was an option. As per the new rules, only certificates not older than 72 hours are valid entry documents.
Police and health workers at the inter-State check posts refused entry to vehicles carrying passengers without the required RTPCR negative reports. The move caused chaos as several travellers are not aware of the new norm. Even those having COVID negative report found it difficult to enter the State from Maharashtra as a long queue of vehicles delayed the process of checking their reports.
Though some travellers said they had received two doses of vaccines and should be allowed to enter, the police insisted that the rules had changed and that RTPCR test was compulsory.
Sahil Sheikh, a regular traveller between Maharashtra and Karnataka remarked: ``I have to shuttle three times a week. How can I keep getting tested twice a week?’’
Gururaj Rao, a Belagavi-based businessman, who had gone to Jaisinghpur in Maharashtra, was stuck near the border till late evening on Sunday. He said he would get a RTPCR report and try to enter the border on Monday.
M.G. Hiremath, DC and Lakshman Nimbaragi, SP, visited the Kuganoli check post on Sunday to see if the checking was going on smoothly. Some passengers complained to Mr Hiremath that the checking process was delaying their journey. The DC told The Hindu that the system would be streamlined in a few days.
A similar situation prevailed along the border with Kerala. However, the Kodagu district administration that has stepped up surveillance along the border has also decided to carry out Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) at all the check-posts from Monday. Similarly, more surveillance staff are likely to be deployed at the check-posts from Monday for quick screening travellers.
At the Attibele check post near Bengaluru, bordering with Tamil Nadu, government officials were screening vehicles bearing registration numbers of Kerala and Maharashtra which were coming from both Kerala and Tamil Nadu. People who failed to show negative RTCPR reports were asked to go back.
Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru Urban District J. Manjunath said, “We have heightened the surveillance at the checkpost. If passengers fail to produce negative RTCPR reports, they are sent back. In emergency cases, health staff are doing RAT tests at the check post,” he said.