New Year: No celebrations on roads and public places
Celebrations that draw crowds and revellers on main roads and to public places, especially at party hubs like Brigade Road, M.G. Road, Commercial Street and surrounding areas on New Year’s Eve, will not be allowed this year, Revenue Minister R. Ashok said on Friday.
Addressing mediapersons after participating in the State’s COVID-19 Task Force meeting, the Minister said this would be enforced under the Disaster Management Act. “We have discussed this with the BBMP Commissioner, City Police Commissioner and Home Minister Basvaraj Bommai. No permission will be granted to hold parties on roads and public places,” he said. This rule will apply across Karnataka.
Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has agreed, and a Government Order on the guidelines will be issued in two days, he said.
However, parties in hotels, resorts and other places will be allowed by issuing directives to hotel managements to ensure adherence of COVID-19 norms. All hotels hosting parties, pubs, bars and restaurants will be permitted to accommodate only 50% of their capacity. They must abide by the guidelines that will be released by the Disaster Management Cell soon, Mr. Ashok said. “We are planning to have passes issued to customers at hotels to avoid large gatherings for New Year parties,” he said.
Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said, “With huge crowds likely to gather in public places in Bengaluru and several other cities across the State on New Year’s Eve, it will be difficult for revellers to adhere to COVID-19 norms. Ensuring wearing of masks and social distancing at such large gatherings will be tough. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended that not more than 200 people should be allowed to congregate from December 20 to January 2, which we will enforce,” he said.
Gearing up for second wave
Pointing out that the State is gearing up for a possible second wave, the Health Minister said the Task Force had given its nod for procuring the required number of testing kits, oxygen generators and other equipment.
While ₹37.72 crore has been approved for procuring oxygen generators and other equipment in 10 district and 30 taluk hospitals, ₹11.32 crore has been set aside for purchasing 10 lakh rapid antigen kits and ₹22.50 crore for purchase of medicines for next 90 days, he said.
Responding to complaints that some private hospitals are overcharging patients for Remidisvir, he said, “The government rate for this injection is ₹1,800. Action will be taken against hospitals under KPME Act if they overcharge.”
The Minister, who reviewed COVID-19 management in the districts where testing is not up to the mark, said, “We have now fixed targets for Bengaluru Rural, Bengaluru Urban, Ballari, Yadgir, Dakshina Kannada, Belagavi, Bidar, Haveri and Udupi districts.”
‘Year of mourning’
Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar, who reiterated that Ugadi is the new year as per the Indian calendar, said this has been “a year of mourning”, and there is little to celebrate.
“We have lost our near and dear ones to COVID-19. Scores of people have lost their livelihood this year due to the pandemic. There is nothing to celebrate,” he said.