K'taka Bans Rallies, Public or Religious Gatherings for Next 2 Weeks, No Decision on School, Univ Closure

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The BS Yediyurappa-led government on Monday took stock of the coronavirus situation in Karnataka and decided to ban all rallies and public gatherings for the next two weeks. The chief minister held discussions with health department officials as well as experts from the state technical advisory committee (TAC) on measures to be taken to contain the spread of the virus. The state has registered 16,921 new cases in the last two weeks eith the positivity rate crossing 3.20 per cent on Sunday.

Addressing the media after the meeting, the CM said mass gathering in the form of protest rallies or public or religious gatherings would not be allowed for the next 14 days, while clarifying no decision has been taken on the closure of schools and colleges.

Education Minister S Suresh Kumar said the government’s call to not shut down schools was taken keeping in mind that it was easier to conduct tests in schools. “While doctors advised that schools should be closed for 15-20 days, the general consensus was that students are safer there as they are observing more disciplinary steps in schools and it is easier to hold examinations as well.”

Several university campuses and hostels, including Manipal cluster in Udupi district, have already turned into COVID-19 hotspots. Health Minister K Sudhakar will visit the Manipal campus on Tuesday and will then take a final call on the future course of action. In Karnataka, colleges resumed offline classes in January, while classes for standard 6th to 10 re-opened in February.

A decision on implementing stricter coronavirus-related protocol at gatherings was also discussed. Revenue Minister R Ashok said choultrys (wedding halls) found flouting norms would incur heftier fines and will also be shut down. “From Monday onwards, we will punish owners of marriage halls and they will be asked to shut down for six months if they are found violating rules”

At present, marriages in an indoor setting can have up to 200 people, while for birthdays and similar events in an outdoor setting, the limit has been capped at 100. The government has decided to stick with the Rs 250 penalty for those found not wearing mask within the BBMP limits.