Karnataka is set to review the fines it had imposed on restaurants, malls, theatres and shops if customers are found flouting COVID-19 protocol on their premises.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has discussed the matter with the health department officials and has asked them to revise the rules with lower fines, as the number of daily cases is falling in the state, two sources told CNBC-TV 18. The official order is expected to be released in the next few days.
In an order on November 9, the state decided to lower fines for non-compliance of COVID-19 protocols by businesses. Fines have now been reduced to Rs 10,000 for malls, AC party halls and 3 Star + hotels, however, fines for non-AC party halls have been lowered to Rs 5,000 from Rs 25,000. No fines will be imposed on small eateries and shops.
On October 7, the health and family welfare department of the Karnataka government issued a notification stating that businesses such as hotels, malls, theatres, restaurants and shops will be penalised if there is a violation of COVID-19 protocol on their premises.
Also read: Toyota Kirloskar Motor workers strike: Karnataka CM asks labour dept to hold talks with union
The fines were steep, ranging from Rs 5,000 for self-service hotels and food outlets and small shops, Rs 25,000 for non-AC restaurants, party halls etc, Rs 50,000 for air conditioned restaurants, cinema halls, shopping malls and similar places, and Rs 1 lakh for hotels above 3 star, and for marriage and convention halls with capacity of over 500.
CNBC-TV18 reached out to Jawaid Akhtar, additional chief secretary of the health department of Karnataka who had issued the October notification but did not receive a response.
The issue has once again come into focus after the Bengaluru civic body - Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike issued a similar notice on December 6.
Also read: Over 62% of ECLGS amount for MSMEs disbursed in Karnataka, industry calls for relaxations
BBMP commisioner Manjunath Prasad told CNBC-TV18 that the notice was just a reiteration of the health department notice, and that the civic body issued it as just a reminder given the holiday season.
However, several industry associations have raised concern about the implementation of such rules, and some have also reached out to the BBMP to not fine business owners for actions of customers.
The Karnataka State Hotels Association has raised concerns about the new rule with BBMP, secretary Madhukar Shetty told CNBC-TV18, "We have spoken with the BBMP Commisioner and have told them that it is wrong to hold restaurants responsible for customers’ behaviour."
"We are waiting to see what their stance will be," he added.
The Bangalore Hotels Association has also reached out to the Commisioner, and industry sources said that other associations such as those of malls, wedding halls and shop are also likely to raise concerns on the rule.
Karnataka has seen a drastic drop in daily additional COVID-19 cases, from around 10,000 a day in October when the notice was issued, to around 1,500 a day in December.
Note: This story has been updated to incorporate latest developments.
(Edited by : Jomy)
First Published: IST