Karnataka asks IT companies to continue work from home till July-end

Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa. (Mint )
Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa. (Mint )
  • Yediyurappa govt partially lifts some restrictions to kickstart some economic activity in the state
  • According to the state government’s order, industries, shops and other establishments in districts classified as green zones can operate

BENGALURU : The Karnataka government on Tuesday announced easing of restrictions in some parts of the state that have not been heavily impacted by covid-19. It also permitted information technology (IT) companies to continue working from home till July-end.

Following the colour-coded strategy, the state government partially lifted some restrictions to kickstart some economic activity in the cash-starved state.

S.Suresh Kumar, Karnataka’s primary and secondary education minister, on Tuesday said that the guidelines would provide more clarity on the businesses that can operate in the red, orange and green zones of the state.

“There will be no changes in the red zone,” he clarified, listing Bengaluru Urban, Belagavi, Mysuru, Vijayapura, Bagalkote, Kalaburagi, Bidar and Dakshina Kannada.

These districts account for the bulk of the covid-19 positive cases reported in the state and are also home to more than one hotspot.

Bengaluru has one of the highest number of IT companies in the country and most of them have extended work from home due to the lockdown. The city also accounts for 61 out of the total 295 active cases in the state and is classified as a red zone.

The relaxation in other parts of Karnataka comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked states to make their own assessments and ease restrictions to allow businesses to reopen while continuing to enforce strict measures like social distancing and wearing of masks.

The Karnataka government has been trying to reopen businesses, including the sale of liquor, one of its biggest sources of tax revenue. But the rise in the number of cases had forced the government to extend the lockdown till 3 May at least.

Eleven people tested positive for covid-19 on Tuesday, taking the state’s total to 523 cases, including 20 deaths and 207 recoveries.

Kumar said that there are 120 containment zones that include 725,611 homes and 4.07 lakh people while the buffer zones around them have a total of 7.69 lakh homes and would impact 36.39 lakh people.

According to the state government’s order, industries, shops and other establishments in districts classified as green zones can operate. However, there are restrictions in operating industries in neighbouring Ramanagara district since most workers live in Bengaluru and will not be allowed to travel.

“These establishments shall make arrangements for stay of workers within their premises as far as possible and/or adjacent buildings,” the order said, adding that it was the responsibility of the employer to arrange transport and also ensure social distancing.

All shops registered under the Shops and Establishments Act, except those dealing with multi-brand and single-brand malls, outside the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, can operate with 50% strength of workers.

In relatively low-risk districts like Ballari, Mandya, Bengaluru Rural, Gadag, Tumakuru, Chikkaballapura, Uttara Kannada and Dharwad, the minister in charge will take a call, the notification adds.

Karnataka appears to have contained the spread of the virus and currently has 8.38 covid-19 cases per million population as against 185.52 in Delhi and 76.44 in Maharashtra, according to government data.

The average in the last five days has come down to 1.87%. A total of 4,827 tests were conducted on Tuesday. Karnataka does an average of 677 tests per million as against 1,504 in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and 1,279 in Rajasthan. The fatality rate in Karnataka stands at 3.3 per crore population, data shows.

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