Karnataka ministers want end to lockdown post June 7 | Bengaluru News – Times of India
A constable, with a camera in hand, checks motorists near KR Market in Bengaluru on Sunday
BENGALURU: With fresh Covid-19 cases steadily declining, various stakeholders, including cabinet ministers, are mounting pressure on chief minister BS Yediyurappa to lift the lockdown and reboot economic activity.
While health experts have advised the government to enforce strict Covid protocols, they are in favour of a calibrated relaxation of lockdown rules to ensure lives and livelihoods are protected. Chief minister Yediyurappa is also reportedly in favour of the idea of balancing strict safety measures to control cases and gradual opening up of economic sectors.
On Sunday, Yediyurappa said he does not see the necessity to extend the lockdown but insisted that a decision on lifting restrictions would depend on the pandemic situation at that time.
“We are discussing it [lifting of lockdown],” Yediyurappa said. “Since the present lockdown will continue till June 7, we will review the situation around June 5. We will consult experts and ministers before taking a decision. While the overall situation has improved, the level of infection is still high in some districts, contrary to our expectation.”
On the Centre’s recent guidelines to extend curbs till the end of June, Yediyurappa said states have been given the freedom to decide on imposing or lifting restrictions depending on local considerations.
He said the government is working on a second tranche of economic relief for workers from unorganised sectors and an announcement to that effect will be made soon.
Ramp up vax drive
Meanwhile, many of Yediyurappa’s colleagues are batting for the lockdown to be lifted. “The pandemic situation is expected to improve further in the next week and there is no requirement of lockdown after June 7. Our appeal to the chief minister is that the lockdown should not be extended,” said cooperation minister ST Somashekhar.
Forest minister Aravind Limbavali suggested that the chief minister should have a differential approach to relaxation of the lockdown.
“We should have microcontainment measures at village and ward levels where infection is spreading and lift the lockdown in areas where the situation is under control,” said Limbavali.
Several ministers have urged the government to step up the vaccination drive so that any fresh surge is neutralised.
The CM has received suggestions to lift restrictions in four or five phases; standalone retail shops would be opened in the first phase and places like shopping malls and cinema halls will be allowed to function in later phases.
Educational institutions and other places where congregations are inevitable are expected to open in the final phase. According to guidelines issued by the Union ministry of home affairs, a lockdown is not necessary if the test positivity rate is less than 10%.
The state’s positivity rate has fallen remarkably from a staggering 45% in mid-May to 14.6% on Sunday and the government expects it to slide further in places like Bengaluru, where cases peaked much earlier than they did in the rest of the state.
However, state home minister Basavaraj Bommai said: “We are yet to bring the positivity rate under control. Even the number of fresh cases should come down. The next one week is crucial and people should ensure the curve is further flattened, otherwise it would be difficult to relax the lockdown.
Speaking in Hubballi, industries minister Jagadish Shettar also pointed out that Delhi had extended the lockdown although their positivity rate had fallen below the 10% mark. “We have a lockdown in place till June 7 in the state. Since no one can predict just which way the positivity rate will go, we cannot say anything for certain at this stage,” Shettar said.