Public transport back in Karnataka from May 19


Buses, autorickshaws and cabs are set to return to roads in Karnataka from Tuesday, after a gap of nearly two months, with some conditions in place. More commercial establishments will also reopen.

The State government has further eased lockdown restrictions in many areas by allowing BMTC and KSRTC buses to provide services by fixing the passenger strength at 30 from Tuesday. Wearing masks will be mandatory for all passengers.

All activities, businesses, and buses will be allowed only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. till May 31. However, Sundays will see a total lockdown.

All non-AC buses will operate from Tuesday in all parts of the State, except in COVID-19 containment zones. All four government-owned road transport corporations and private operators will provide bus services. Though the government has announced that trains will ply within the State, the nod of the Railways is awaited.

“The condition on resumption of bus services is that only 30 passengers will be allowed to travel in one bus to ensure social distancing,” Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said after discussing the Centre’s lockdown 4.0 guidelines for nearly two hours with his Cabinet colleagues and officials.

On the proposal to hike bus fares, he said this would not happen. “I know there will be losses. The government will reimburse the losses,” he said.

While autorickshaws and taxis will be allowed to operate with a driver and two passengers, maxi-cabs (six passengers) will have a driver and three passengers. Wearing of masks is mandatory for drivers and passengers. “Those not wearing a mask will be penalised,” Mr. Yediyurappa said.

He announced that salons and barber shops could also be opened. For the benefit of walkers, all parks will be open from Tuesday between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Street vendors are allowed to sell commodities during the day.

Metro rail services in Bengaluru, cinema halls, malls, and gyms will remain shut till the end of May. Hotels will be allowed to supply only parcelled food. Action will be taken in case hotels refuse, the Chief Minister warned.

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He also said stadiums would be opened, but no spectators would be allowed.

On Sundays

Mr. Yediyurappa said that a total lockdown would be enforced on Sundays till May 31. “Movement of people will not be allowed. All buses and private vehicles will remain off the road on Sundays. All business establishments and roadside shops too will remain closed. It will be a complete rest day,” he said.

Noting that the Centre has issued guidelines till May 31, he said curfew would be in force from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily. Criminal cases can be registered against all those who violate the law and lockdown norms, he warned.

On the classification of zones, he said the government’s main focus was the containment zones. “We are particular about containment zones. For instance, in Uttara Kannada district, Bhatkal will be a containment zone and no other taluk will have restrictions,” he said.

Based on the experience till May 31, Mr. Yediyurappa said, the relaxations will be reviewed. “States have been given freedom, so we can withdraw or modify as necessary,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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