Karnataka Lifts More Covid Restrictions, But An Air Of Caution Lingers

Weddings and family functions can now have up to 100 attendees. Funerals can have 20, up from the earlier 5. Karnataka is easing up the Covid curbs.

Namma Metro, like Bengaluru's buses, can now operate at full capacity.

Bengaluru:

Karnataka has lifted many COVID-19 restrictions following a considerable reduction in the number of new infections reported from across the state.

Having reported more Covid cases every day than even Maharashtra, the worst-hit state till now, during the peak of the second wave in May, its numbers have declined over the past many days. Yesterday, Karnataka reported only 1,500-odd cases and 59 deaths.

From reducing the number of curfew hours to easing of public transport, the state opened up further today, but with appeals to adhere to pandemic protocol.

Weddings and family functions can now have up to a hundred attendees. Funerals, similarly, can have twenty, up from the earlier five.

Buses in Karnataka, which have been operating for some days at 50 per cent capacity, can now fill all their seats. Bengaluru's Namma Metro, too, extended its functioning hours and can operate to full seating capacity.

Malls have also been allowed to open after months. The state capital's Garuda Mall is even vaccinating its employees.

"We at Garuda Mall want everyone who enters the shopping centre...our employees...anybody...vaccinated," Dr Uday B Garudachar, Managing Director of the Garuda Group, told NDTV.

Not everything is open in the malls, though.

"The theatres are yet to open. The food court will open in phases. The beginning has been made," Mr Garudachar said.

Even in standalone shops, which were allowed to open earlier, business remains slow.

Siddaraju, who runs a garment shop on Bengaluru's popular Brigade Road, articulated the dire situation by comparing the "before" and "after", saying "it is a big problem for businesses" that, while shoppers awaited their reopening earlier, they now themselves await customers.

Meanwhile, Karnataka's temples, too, are reopening for the public after months.

"There are fewer people than usual. We also have some fear. We can't mix with people. We don't know in what condition they are coming...We have to be careful. We are doing only the arati and sending them away...Now they are also talking about Delta Plus," Narasimha Charan, a priest at the Siddhivinayaka Temple in the city's Kaggalipura locality, told NDTV.

"I think it would have been better to have waited another two or three months before permitting people."

Another sign of the slow return of normalcy is that Bengaluru's infamous road traffic is back. Authorities, however, hope people don't consider feel it is business as usual. Mobile squads will keep an eye for violators of the Covid protocol.