Concerned over spiraling Omicron cases in the state, the Karnataka government on Tuesday announced the imposition of weekend curfew starting January 7, while extending the night curfew for another two weeks.
The government also decided to shut schools and pre-university colleges except for 10th and 12th standard students for two weeks.
The decisions were taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in which senior ministers including Revenue Minister Ashoka, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar and Higher Education Minister Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, medical experts and senior officials participated.
The meeting was held in view of the sudden jump in number of COVID cases in the state.
The southern state on Tuesday logged 2,479 cases including 147 new Omicron cases, and four fatalities. Since January 1, the city has been logging over 1,000 cases daily.
Sudhakar said cases in the state are doubling every two to three days, while during the first and second waves of the pandemic, the infections doubled every 15 and eight to 10 days respectively.
“We have decided that barring 10th and 12th classes, schools will be shut for rest of the classes in Bengaluru. These COVID rules will come into effect from Wednesday night,” Ashoka told reporters.
He said there will be a weekend curfew for two weeks from 10 PM on Friday to 5 AM on Monday. All essential services will continue, he added. Further, the government decided to extend the night curfew, which ends on January 7, for two weeks.
The new guidelines bars the congregation of more than 200 people in marriages in open places and 100 in marriage halls. There should also be 50 per cent occupancy in pubs, bars, cinema halls and malls and those working in and visiting these places should have taken both doses of the COVID vaccine.
Visitors coming from Maharashtra, Kerala and Goa will be allowed entry to the state only after producing a negative RT-PCR test report, the government has said.
Ashoka told reporters that no rallies or political events with large congregation will be allowed in the city. His statement came as the Congress plans to organise a march from Mekedatu in Ramanagara district to Bengaluru on January 9 to urge the government to start work on the Mekedatu balancing reservoir across the Cauvery river to supply drinking water in Bengaluru and neighbouring districts.
Speaking to reporters, Sudhakar said those coming from high-risk nations will be sent for institutional quarantine if they test positive for COVID. The travellers can choose hotels of their choice to stay in quarantine which can be a budget or a star hotel.
“We cannot send the foreigners home who test positive,” he said. Sudhakar said there were discussions about the availability of medicines, hospitals, ICU beds and other necessary arrangements.
He also said that the government decided to treat Bengaluru as a state while dealing with COVID-19 cases. “We are treating Bengaluru as a state because it has become an epicentre of COVID just like any other metropolitan city. Almost 80 to 90 per cent cases are coming from Bengaluru only in Karnataka,” the Health minister said. Further, Sudhakar said that teams led by IAS officers have been assigned different roles in COVID management to handle the pandemic at a micro level.
(With inputs from agencies)