The Karnataka government on Wednesday announced a partial relaxation of restrictions imposed under the countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Relaxations will be provided in 17 core services and industrial sectors.
The order will come into effect at midnight on Thursday. However, no activity will be permitted in Covid-19 containment zones identified by the government.
In non-containment zones, construction activities related to roads, irrigation projects, buildings and all kinds of industrial projects, including by medium and small enterprises, in rural areas and semi-rural areas outside municipal corporations and municipalities, will be allowed. Similarly, construction activities will be permitted in industrial areas where workers are available onsite, without there being a need to bring them in from other places.
Workers employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 will also be allowed to resume work, albeit wearing face masks and while following all norms of social distancing. Activities related to ports and air cargo are also allowed, and private security personnel have been exempted from the restrictions as well.
The Karnataka government also exempted select additional activities “to mitigate the hardship of the public”. However, the notification issued by Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar said that the onus of ensuring safety measures such as social distancing is on district administrations, including the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike.
Services of self-employed persons such as electricians, IT repair technicians, plumbers, motor mechanics, and carpenters have been exempted from the lockdown. Tea, coffee and rubber plantation workers have been allowed to work with 50% of their workforce, and a similar exemption has been granted to those who are involved in the processing, packaging, selling and marketing of these products.
The Karnataka government said that private vehicles with passes given for emergency services will be allowed movement in the state. However, all public transportation will remain suspended till May 3. The state government also allowed the movement of trucks transporting goods such as cement, steel, bricks, gravels, tiles, and paints.
Hotels, guesthouses and home stays housing tourists stranded amid the pandemic, have been allowed to carry on their operations, according to The Hindu.
The government said that any person who violates the lockdown restrictions would be liable for penal action under Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, and Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. Such violations may attract imprisonment varying from one to two years besides penalty, the order said.
Karnataka has so far reported 443 cases of Covid-19, including 17 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.