(Eds: adding details) Bengaluru, May 18 (PTI) Easing restrictions further as the COVID-19 induced lockdown entered the fourth phase, the Karnataka government on Monday allowed public transport services to operate from May 19, except in containment zones.
Following the recent spike in coronavirus infections, the government said it has decided to allow people from states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu entry into Karnataka in a staggered manner, while special cases will be allowed on request.
With the lockdown 4.0, the government also decided to do away with colour coding of districts into red, orange and green zones and instead, focus on containment for monitoring.
On April 23, the Karnataka government partially relaxed COVID-19 lockdown norms in the state, allowing IT and IT- enabled services to operate with essential minimum staff and also certain construction activities, manufacturing of packaging materials, courier services, among others.
In earlier relaxations, the government had allowed certain industries to operate, besides opening of liquor outlets and some standalone shops.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Monday convened a meeting with Ministers and senior officers on permitting various activities in the fourth phase of the lockdown in the state, as per guidelines issued by the Government of India.
Detailed discussions were held about holding economic activities, people arriving from other countries and states, their quarantining, restarting public transport and the law and order situation, along with containing COVID-19.
'Lockdown will continue till May 31.In containment zones, there will be strict restrictions. If anyone violates the law, we will book criminal cases against them,' Yediyurappa said.
Speaking to reporters,he said for the benefit of movement of people, all four state transport corporations (BMTC, KSRTC, NEKRTC and NWKRTC) have been allowed to operate, except in containment zones, from Tuesday morning.
Private buses have also been permitted to ply, he said, adding that only 30 people would be allowed to travel in a bus with mandatory wearing of masks and maintaining physical distancing.
Amid apprehensions about bus fare hike due to losses faced by these transport corporations, the government has made it clear that the fares would not be increased and it would bear the losses.
Inter-state transport of people would not be allowed, except in emergency cases, the Chief Minister said.
'We have decided not to allow people from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu till May 31, but allowed in stages (staggered manner),' he said.
According to sources, the decision follows the recent arrival of a large number of people from these states, especially Maharashtra and Gujarat, and them testing positive in quarantine, leading to a spike in the number of infections in the state.
Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai too said, 'we are wary of people entering the state from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat... looking at these people adding to the tally in Karnataka.' Autorickshaws and taxis were also given the green signal to ply, but only with three passengers, including the driver.
In maxi-cabs, the maximum number should be four passengers, including the driver.
Trains can operate within the state, but there will be no inter-state services till May 31.
Saloons can also function.
Parks have been allowed to be open from 7 am to 9 am and from 5 pm to 7 pm, Yediyurappa said.
Except shopping malls, cinema halls and hotels, all shops can open, he said, adding that in hotels, parcels can be given as takeaways for the benefit of customers.
The Chief Minister said night curfew would continue from 7 pm to 7 am and that 'there will be a complete lockdown on Sundays'.
To a question on classification of zones, Yediyurappa said the government's main focus was containment zones.
He said the government will review the relaxation based on how things pan out in the days to come.
'States have been given the freedom, so we can withdraw or modify as necessary,' he said.
According to top official sources,the government is doing away with the colour coding of districts and instead will focus on containment zones, which will be closely monitored.
Extending the lockdown with a new set of guidelines till May 31, the Centre on Sunday had given states and union territories powers for delineation of Red, Green and Orange Zones as per COVID-19 situation.
The nationwide lockdown was initially imposed from March 25 to April 14, then extended to May 3 and again to May 17 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. PTI KSU APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH