Pending approval from the Centre, the Karnataka government is expected to announce easing of restrictions on certain public transportation.

auto bus cars and scooters are seen on a Bengaluru road waiting at a traffic signalFile photo
Coronavirus Transport Saturday, May 16, 2020 - 10:06

The Karnataka government indicated on Friday that it would likely ease some restrictions on public transport, including cabs, buses and auto rickshaws, if the Centre approves its plan. The services will be resumed only on a limited scale. In a statement, Bengaluru Metropolitain Transport Corporation's Managing Director C Shikha said that all safety measures have been put in place at all bus depots in Bengaluru. She said that the precautionary measures are being taken even as the state is awaiting the Centre's guidelines in easing operations of public transport. 

"BMTC is strengthening the COVID-19 containment strategy and stepping up of city bus operation activities in a calibrated manner as the 54-day nationwide lockdown nears an end. The focus in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak shall be to reduce transmission rate and increase public activity gradually while adhering to guidelines," G Shikha said.  

All BMTC staff are mandated to under go daily health checks before and after their shift ends. All depots will have infrared thermometers to check the employees' temperature daily. All employees will be provided with masks, gloves and hand sanitisers. The BMTC has also started putting up educational material regarding COVID-19 and personal hygiene, inside its buses. "We are planning to enforce minimal physical contact. That is the biggest challenge. Buses will be disinfected everyday. Passengers will not be allowed to corwd buses. We are sketching a plan to see if we should allow only allow passengers to sit. Standing in buses will be reduced to minimal so physical distancing can be followed. We are yet to decide whetehere we will allow passengers to stand," a senior BMTC official said.  

The BMTC is also mulling over limiting cash transactions. It is instead thinking about promoting the use of daily or monthly passes through online payment. 

According to the Times of India, a senior minister notes that the state is looking to ease the lockdown by 90 percent, and open up restrictions on many establishments. Karnataka will follow the Central government's advice if the lockdown is extended beyond May 17, and officials are awaiting further guidance to be announced on Saturday or Sunday. The government has suggested the continuation of restrictions only in containment areas, an official said on Friday.

Earlier this week, Karnataka Minister for Kannada, Tourism and Culture CT Ravi hinted that salons and gyms would likely reopen as well. “There is pressure to open salons in orange and red zones. The CM has expressed his wish to open them after May 17, with some restrictions. 99% it will be opened up. Gyms will also be open, with restrictions like fever testing and sanitisers.”

However, officials have reportedly said that five-star hotels will not be allowed to open as yet.

Read: Karnataka minister hints salons and gyms in the state will open post May 17

"The state government will abide by the Centre's advice if the lockdown is extended beyond May 17 with more relaxations. We are waiting for it (advice) and guidelines from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs," an official in the Chief Minister's Office told IANS in Bengaluru.

Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's directive after his fifth interaction with Chief Ministers of all states through video conferencing on May 11, Karnataka favoured lockdown curbs even after May 17 in containment zones only, while lifting them in other areas.

"Our assessment is relaxations will be for more activities in all areas except in red zones or hotspots though wearing a mask, washing hands with sanitiser and maintaining physical distance will continue for all everywhere," the official said.

The state has reported 1,056 COVID-19 cases as of Friday, with 539 active cases, 480 discharged and 36 deaths.

With IANS inputs

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