Karnataka Unlock News: Karnataka mulls easing weekend curfew and reopening malls

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(This story originally appeared in on Jul 02, 2021)

As part of the third level of unlocking from July 5, the state government is looking at relaxing weekend and night curfew, besides reopening malls and extending business hours of shops and establishments.

The group of ministers (GoM) on Covid-19 headed by chief minister BS Yediyurappa will meet on Saturday to discuss the plans for the third level of lockdown relaxations, following which the government is expected to release guidelines.

“Some relaxations are on the cards and the issues of lifting the weekend curfew and reducing the hours of night curfew are being discussed. The chief minister will take a final call after the GoM meeting,” said home minister and GoM member Basavaraj Bommai.

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At present, standalone retail shops are allowed to stay open between 6am and 5pm, with night curfew being clamped at 7pm. While traders want permission to stay open till 10pm, an hour-long extension is being looked at. Correspondingly, public transport, including BMTC buses and Metro service, is likely to be allowed to operate for longer hours.

“Most of the day’s business of the retail sector takes place in the evening. Also, weekends account for 60% of sales, while Monday to Friday sales cover only 40%. So, it is important to reduce the hours of night curfew and lift the weekend curfew if we want to see quick economic recovery,” said trade activist Sajjan Raj Mehta.

While the government is looking at a strategy to balance economic revival with Covid management, a steady decline in cases is likely to encourage a more optimistic view on opening up more sectors.

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Govt OK with reopening of cinema halls with limited entry

The test positivity rate (TPR) has fallen below 5% in all districts barring Kodagu while the state average is hovering around 2%.

The chief minister responded positively when mall owners met him on Wednesday and requested permission to resume business. Officials in the chief minister’s office said the CM is in favour of allowing malls with limited business hours and strict Covid protocol. Food courts in the malls are likely to be allowed with 50% occupancy. Sources said the government is also in favour of reopening multiplexes and cinema halls with limited entry.

“There are positive signals from the government and a few malls have started preparations to reopen on Monday. Multiplexes and single screens may take more time to resume operations as there is no content for them

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There are discussions on opening up of malls, markets and wedding halls in Bengaluru city. But it will be extremely important that people follow the Covid protocols strictly to make the unlocking successful.

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