Curfewed nights return with new strain of Covid-19

The technical advisory committee had initially recommended night curfew after Christmas, but fear of the new strain of virus prompted immediate action.

[This article was updated after an official order, with several changes to the original announcement, was issued by the Chief Secretary, Karnataka. The full text of the order can be found here]

The Karnataka government has imposed a State-wide night curfew for eight days beginning December 24. The curfew will come into effect at 11 pm and last till 5 am on those days.

The decision was taken in view of the new strain of Covid-19 virus, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced, a day after he had ruled out the possibility of night curfew.

“In view of the new strain of Covid-19, and as per the advice of Government of India and the State’s technical advisory committee on Covid-19, the state government has imposed night curfew across the State,” Yediyurappa said. The announcement was preceded by a meeting between Health Minister K Sudhakar and the TAC, after which the minister briefed the Chief Minister.

The government, on December 17, had announced a ban on parties and public celebrations of the New Year and imposed social distancing norms on Christmas mass. That would continue, the government order said.

The latest announcement allows companies, organisations and industries that require to operate at night, to function with 50% staff. It also allows movement of night buses, trains and air services. Taxi and autos for dropping and picking up passengers are also permitted.

Travellers would have to produce their tickets to travel during the curfew, while workers would have to produce their ID cards, the notice said.

Screening at airport

The Chief Minister said that monitoring and testing facilities for international passengers at the Bengaluru International airport has been strengthened.

On Tuesday, the Union government came out with an SOP for surveillance and response to the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was detected in the United Kingdom. As part of this, all international airports in the country and State governments were issued guidelines to screen passengers at airports.

Sudhakar said there will be an official circular specifying the guidelines for the night curfew. “All activities should stop before 10 pm and people should get back home by them.” It may be recalled that after the total lock down in March and April, night curfew continued for a few weeks during the early phases of Unlock.

It is learnt that Yediyurappa, who was against the night curfew till Tuesday, changed his mind after the TAC prevailed on the government.

The TAC had already cautioned the State government about the possibility of a second wave of the Covid-19 towards January-February. Besides a ban on New Year celebrations, the committee had recommended a night curfew starting December 26.

The emergence of the new strain, compounded by the fact that hundreds of returnees from the UK entered the State without being screened, pushed the TAC to recommend night curfew with immediate effect, sources said.

BBMP commissioner tests positive

Meanwhile, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad announced through twitter that he has tested positive for Covid-19. He requested all those who met him recently, or were present at his meetings — including mediapersons — to get themselves tested.

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