(Eds; adding details) Bengaluru, Apr 26 (PTI) The Karnataka government on Monday announced what it termed as a 'close down' across the state for 14 days from Tuesday night in a bid to contol the huge spike in COVID-19 cases in the state.
The state cabinet led by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa also decided to provide COVID-19 vaccinations free of cost at government hospitals for those between 18-44 years of age.
'Strict measures to control COVID will be taken. From tomorrow night till the next 14 days, there will be a close down for the whole state,' Yediyurappa said.
Speaking to reporters after a three hour long cabinet meeting here, he said shops selling essential commodities will be allowed to remain open only from 6 am to 10 am.
'The agriculture sector, manufacturing sector, construction sector and medical and essential sectors will continue to operate,' he said.
However, no permission has been granted to garments under the manufacturing sector, the intention being that there should not be any problem as about seven to eight lakh people in very close proximity to each other in the factories.
Night curfew, which is in place now between 9 PM to 6 AM, would continue, the Chief Minister said.
Transport services would not ply during the close down period, but there would be no restrictions on movement of goods and essential services.
Deputy Commissioners of all districts and Tahsildars have been instructed to take strict measures, he said.
'If things don't come under control in two weeks, continuing it (strict measures) may become inevitable.
People will have to cooperate.' Despite bringing into effect lockdown-like measures, the government stopped short of calling it as such and instead used the term 'close down'.
To a question seeking clarification whether it is a lockdown or half lockdown, Yediyurappa said, 'you can interpret it however you want. We have clearly stated what measures we want to bring into effect... we have given relaxation between 6 am to 10 am and to certain sectors.
On why the government was not using the term lockdown, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said 'what term is used is not important, the measures taken are important.' Yediyurappa said the cabinet took the decisions on imposing strict restrictions after consulting the expert committee, as the covid case numbers in Bengaluru and surrounding areas have surpassed that of Maharashtra.
The Chief Secretary would issue an order, dwelling on the guidelines, in a few hours, he said.
The Chief Minister said essential services like banking among others would continue to operate, as also take-aways at hotels, restaurants and liquor shops.
'It has been decided to postpone all elections for six months,' he added.
The state government had last week stopped short of announcing a full-fledged lockdown and had preferred night curfews and a weekend curfew till May 4, keeping in mind the need to keep economic activities going.
However, with the state facing a huge spike in COVID-19 cases, the government on Monday announced new measures.
Karnataka on Sunday had reported the biggest single day spike of 34,804 new COVID-19 cases and 143 related fatalities, taking the caseload to 13.39 lakh and the toll to 14,426.
The total number of active cases stood at 2,62,162.
On COVID vaccination, the Chief Minister said it would be given free of cost at government hospitals for those aged between 18 and 44 years.
'The health department will draw up the guidelines required. For those above 45 years the Centre is giving vaccines free of cost,' he said.
The state government on Thursday had decided to purchase one crore doses of Covishield vaccine at a cost of Rs 400 crore, in the first phase.
The Centre had recently announced that the vaccination for those above 18 years will begin across the country from May 1 as part of the third phase of the inoculation drive.
The CM clarified that there is no shortage of oxygen and said the Centre has increased the daily quota to the state from 300 metric tonnes to 800 metric tonnes.
He also said that the union government has increased Karnataka's allocation of Remdesivir from 50,000 to 1,22,000.
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