The second wave of COVID-19 started to hit Karnataka also, and the state government finds itself in a difficult period- between saving lives or livelihoods. They take some decisions and changes them as they are not yet to take a firm decision. They are taking U-turns in many of the decisions they took.
First, it was announced that schools would stay open in spite of the spike in new cases. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa made that announcement on March 29 . He advised doing so would make stakeholders – parents, children, teachers and officials – to practice better Covid hygiene.
Three days later, on April 1, offline classes (those asking students to go to schools) for Classes 6 to 9 in Bengaluru (Urban) were dissolved, “keeping in view the increasing COVID cases”.
Then, last week it was decided that gyms would be closed – a choice that left owners infuriated and asking either monetary compensation or being allowed to work at 50 per cent capacity.
On Sunday, in another U-turn, gyms were permitted to open – with capacity limited at 50 per cent, of course. The order was a relief to those in the business. “At least this time 50 per cent is good… People should come to the gym, work out and build immunity,” Shiva, a gym owner, told NDTV.
Then came the cinema U-turn, which went from allowing only 50 per cent occupancy back to 100 per cent occupancy till April 7.
PS Gnaneshwar Authal, who owns several movie theatres, said: “The one reason for the demand is that a ? 30 crore film of Puneeth Rajkumar could run for only one day. To avoid a loss it was decided to let it run at least for a week. I think that is why they made it 100% again.”
“We check that viewers are wearing masks… we check their temperature and we give them hand sanitiser. We also sanitise the theatre after each show,” he added.
In the midst of the fear that a very dangerous spike in Covid cases is causing- India reported over 100,000 new cases in 24 hours for the first time ever – some movie-goers remain hopeful.
“It is not like people will get coronavirus if they come to the theatre. There are so many people in the markets. People go standing in buses,” one person argued.
All this back and forth gives the idea of a government that is uncertain and doubtful of what to do to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I think the Chief Minister has taken some views because of the kind of pressure on him… and also maybe because he wants to balance saving livelihoods and lives. So, I think he has taken a proactive step in helping those associations which brought pressure on him,” Dr K Sudhakar, the Karnataka Health Minister, said
“He has conceded to their demands. But, at the end of the day, as you know, if cases are going up like in Maharashtra – then no government will have any space to give such relaxations,” he added.
One Bengaluru inmate told NDTV: “The government says one thing one day and cancels it the next day. They say yes today and no the day after. No government is happy to curb any activity because, at the end of the day, it is a loss to everybody, including the government.”
Given the widespread financial distress that followed the lockdown last year and the wave of viruses that followed, any sort of shutdown is likely to be the last option. But with hospital beds filling up and thousands of new cases reported every day, there are no easy decisions.
Karnataka – the third worst-affected state in the country – reported over 4,500 cases on Sunday, taking the current caseload up to nearly 40,000. Over 12,600 deaths have been recorded so far.