Bengaluru: Amid the continuing Covid-19 spread in rural areas and the positivity and fatality rates remaining high in the state, the Karnataka government on Wednesday backed extension of the lockdown by a week beyond June 7.
The decision is expected to be announced by CM BS Yediyurappa today, alongside a second relief package for unorganised workers who were left out in the first round announced last month. Ahead of that, the government permitted export-oriented units (EOUs) to function with 50% of their staff from June 3.
“Hundred per cent of EOUs are permitted to function with 50% of staff strength by strictly adhering to Covid appropriate behaviour. All functioning industries which employ more than 1,000 people shall do Covid-19 test for at least 10% the employees randomly twice a week,” said a note signed by chief secretary P Ravi Kumar.
Earlier in the day, Yediyurappa said EOUs would be allowed to operate from Thursday, following an appeal from industries minister Jagadish Shettar who cited the huge loss suffered by the sector and its long-term negative impact on the state’s economy.
In discussions on the lockdown, the CM and a few senior ministers were in favour of unlocking in a phased manner after June 7 as Covid cases have dropped by nearly 65% from the peak in the first week of May. Health experts on the state Covid panel, however, stressed that the lockdown must continue at least for one more week as the positivity rate across the state is still hovering around 15%, said a minister who attended the meeting. They sought that the lockdown be continued till the positivity rate settles around 5%, he added.
The state’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), in its report to the government, has said the positivity rate has to fall below 5% and the number of daily cases below 5,000 for restrictions on movement and activities to be relaxed.
Sources said the government is unlikely to change restrictions with regard to intraand inter- district movement. Daily timings for purchase of essentials is also likely to remain unchanged, from 6am to 10am, though there is pressure to extend the timing till 2pm. The government is, however, expected to allow agricultural traders to resume business to allow farmers to sell their produce.
This state government first announced a lockdown from May 10 to May 24 as the daily caseload touched 50,000 on May 5. It was later extended till June 7.
Deputy chief minister CN Ashwath Narayana said the state has begun preparations to battle a potential third wave of Covid-19. Narayana said an expert panel headed by Dr Devi Shetty will submit its report within a week, suggesting a roadmap of measures. “Based on the recommendations, our government will take necessary action,” he tweeted.