The Karnataka government has decided to reopen schools for students from class 9 to 12 (II PUC) from August 23, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Friday. After taking stock of the COVID-19 situation in the state, he said that the government has decided to impose a weekend curfew in districts bordering Kerala and Maharashtra and that the existing night curfew across the state will begin from 9 PM instead of 10 PM.
The Chief Minister on Friday chaired a meeting with health and education experts, Ministers and senior officials of the state government to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the state. “We have discussed the current COVID situation, also some directions have come at the all-India level about the possible increase or decrease in the positivity rate in the days to come, based on that we have come to certain decisions,” Bommai said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said, “we have decided to impose weekend curfew in districts bordering Kerala and Maharashtra and the night curfew in force across the state will begin from 9 PM itself instead of 10 PM (it will be from 9 PM to 5 AM), and police have been asked to implement it strictly.” Currently, night curfew in the state is from 10 PM to 5 AM. Those districts that are bordering Maharashtra where weekend curfew will be applicable are- Belagavi, Bidar, Vijayapura and Kalaburagi.Similarly those districts bordering Kerala are- Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Mysuru and Chamarajanagara.
Stating that at the meeting detailed discussions were held with education and health experts on opening of schools and also regarding the positions taken by other states in this regard, Bommai said, “We have decided to do it in two stages.In the first stage, class 9,10, also 11th and 12th (I and II PUC) classes will start from August 23.”
There are certain conditions for opening schools, as per which classes will be held in batches on alternate days and details will be given in the order, he said. Experts are of the opinion that a decision should be taken by August-end on starting primary and secondary classes up to class 8, after taking into account the possibility of a third wave and the intensity of COVID infections, he added.
The Chief Minister said a new COVID-19 task force consisting of Ministers will be constituted in a couple of days. Later in the day an order regarding containment measures to prevent spread of COVID-19 in the state, issued by the Principal Secretary Revenue Department (Disaster Management) Tushar Giri Nath said, all social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious functions and other gatherings and large congregations are prohibited.
However, marriages, family functions are permitted to be conducted involving not more than 100 people strictly adhering to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, while cremation and funerals will be allowed with a maximum of 20 people. According to the order, it was suggested by the health experts that additional containment measures need to be imposed in light of upcoming festival season to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In guidelines for districts where weekend curfew will be imposed, the government said, movement of individuals shall remain strictly prohibited between Friday 9 pm to Monday 5 am, except for essential and emergency activities. It said, shops dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, dairy and milk booths, and animal fodder shall be allowed to function from 5 am to 2 pm.
Street vendors, Public Distribution System shops, and standalone liquor shops and outlets for takeaways only are also allowed to function from 5 am to 2 pm. Home delivery of all items shall be encouraged 24×7 to minimize movement of individuals outside their homes, while restaurants and eateries shall be allowed only for takeaway and home delivery, it added.
Movement of Public Transport, private vehicles and taxis to and from airports, railway stations and bus terminals/stops/stands is allowed for facilitating movement of passengers by air, rail and road, but the movement will be allowed only on displaying valid travel documents/tickets and strictly adhering to COVID appropriate behavior. Movement of employees of organisations dealing with emergency and essential services shall be allowed on producing valid ID cards issued by their respective organisation or institution, it added.