Karnataka govt announces shutdown in nine coronavirus-affected

districts (EDs: Updates with fresh input) Bengaluru, Mar 22 (PTI) The Karnataka government on Sunday announced shutdown of all commercial activities barring essential services in nine districts of the state including the capital city, where COVID-19 cases have been reported, till March 31 and also postponed Class XII Board exam.

The districts are Bengaluru city, Bengaluru Rural, Mangaluru, Mysuru, Kalaburagi, Dharwad, Chikkaballapura, Kodagu and Belagavi, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said.

'After taking stock of the coronavirus situation in the state and in neighboring states, the Chief Minister has announced shutdown from tomorrow till March 31,' he told reporters here.

Other than essential services like medical, grocery and agriculture, all other commercial activities will be under 'shutdown'.

'In these nine districts in factories where there are large number of workers, half work force should be utilised on alternate day basis, 50 per cent of the labour should be used on a day,' he said, adding that inter-district transport services from these nine districts has been cancelled till March 31.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa held a meeting with top ministers and officials of his government regarding COVID-19 in the state and measures that need to be taken.

Bommai said, 'Janta Curfew' will end by 9 pm, but section 144 (prohibitory orders) will be in force after that till 12 am to see to that people don't gather after curfew time ends.' Streets in Bengaluru and other parts of the state wore a deserted look as the 'Janta curfew' proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help check the spread of coronavirus received a tremendous response across Karnataka.

The Home Minister also said that the public transport will continue to remain shut tomorrow as well across the state, and all AC bus services will not operate till March 31.

Asked whether in the wake of shutdown in Bengaluru will the ongoing budget session Karnataka legislature be cancelled, he said the session will continue as per schedule, unless and until there is further notification, which will be duly communicated.

Responding to a question, Bommai said, government offices will continue to function as usual to provide essential services, while at private and IT companies other than critical services most of the work force is already working from home.

After holding another such meeting earlier in the day, Yediyurappa had announced the decision to shut state borders, and also to postpone all exams including (class 10- board), aimed at controlling the spread of virus.

Later, Education Minister Suresh Kumar said secondPUC (class XII-board) English exam, scheduledfor Monday, has also been postponed.

Fresh date for the exam would be decided after March 31, when the situation improved.

The decision to postpone the exam was taken in the interest of the students, as public transport will remain shut on Monday, he added.

Appealing to people in cities not to travel to villages for next 15 days to control outbreak in rural areas, Yediyurappa has said a decision has also been taken to screen all domestic passengers here on at airports. PTI KSU SS VS VS