BENGALURU: While many states across the country have pushed for the lockdown over COVID19 to be extended beyond May 3, Karnataka may have an unpopular opinion. The state that has already removed restrictions on rural industries in nine districts is looking to ease the lockdown in a phased manner after May 3. The government is all for allowing economic activity with abundant caution of protective equipment, screening, physical distancing and limited staff in all areas deemed clear of COVID-19.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, during the CMs’ video-conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, is expected to convey Karnataka’s opinion. The state, however, will put the onus of extension or easing of lockdown on the Union government. “About 90% of the cabinet believes that economic activity should be allowed and lockdown eased in regions that are not under threat. The larger consensus, considering our financial status, is that revenue generation should begin at the earliest, even if partially. We cannot afford to have a blanket lockdown and will impose better scrutiny in containment zones, hotspots and clusters,” said a source from the Chief Minister’s Office.
But scepticism over easing of lockdown norms continues among bureaucrats and ministers, as they are said to believe that the state should study the repercussions, if any, of easing the lockdown and only then consider a further extension. Two days after the Union government issued guidelines to allow shops and establishments to function in all areas except those identified as containment zones and hotspots, Karnataka has not issued any corresponding order.
Will allow economic activity, says minister
It Is expected to come out with an order allowing businesses to function with precautions after the chief minister’s video conference with the PM followed by a meeting of senior officials on Monday, according to Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar. “It is not like the virus will go away after a month. We will have to start functioning around it. So far, the lockdown period has done good and given us time to prepare.
We have scaled up tests, increased hospital facilities and refined mechanisms to trace contacts. We will continue to take measures to contain the spread, but also intend to allow economic activity,” said a minister in the B S Yediyurappa cabinet. Even as the state wants to open up economic activity, it will toe the Centre’s line. “We have already extended the lockdown till May 3 as suggested by the Union government. We will follow their stand on extension,” said Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, Deputy Chief Minister.
DyCM: Orders on shops, businesses tomorrow
Orders on the Centre’s guidelines to ease lockdown for shops and establishments will be issued by Tuesday, said Dr CN Ashwath Narayan, Deputy Chief Minister