The Karnataka government once again flip-flopped on its decision to impose a night curfew in the state starting Thursday. The decision was reminiscent of some of the state government’s early decisions during the pandemic which had also seen a lot of indecisiveness.
The chief minister announced Thursday evening, just hours before 11 pm curfew, that the government was withdrawing the curfew announced between Dec 24-January 1 following criticisms by stakeholders.
CNBC-TV18 had reported that the decision of a night curfew was met with staunch opposition by several businesses, including the hotel and restaurant industry as well as by cab drivers.
For many businesses in the state, especially the restaurant sector which is anticipating more footfall around the holiday period, the curfew would have come as yet another blow.
And even though autos and taxis had been allowed to ferry passengers to and from airports and stations during the night, the Ola and Uber Drivers Association had criticized the curfew, stating that it would also exacerbate fear about the virus and impact businesses, and not just during the curfew period.
"Over the last two months, the business was slowly picking up and labor was also returning,” said Madhukar Shetty, Secretary, Karnataka State Hotels' Association.
"We usually see 15-20 percent extra business during New Year and Christmas. For bars and restaurants, we would extend to 1 pm during New Year's. We would have lost business between 11-1 pm,” he added.
Tanveer Pasha, President, Ola, Taxi For Sure, Uber Drivers and Owners Association said the curfew will lead to panic among citizens, thus adversely affecting business for drivers.
"Our business was badly hit during the pandemic. Even after the lockdown, nobody was taking our services. Gradually, customers had started taking cabs, but after the announcement by the state government yesterday on the curfew, the public has again panicked,” Pasha said.
While cases in Karnataka seem to be under control and there has been no spike in the last few days, the government had said it was being proactive in the light of the new coronavirus strain, especially as 2,500 passengers had flown into Karnataka from the United Kingdom over recent weeks.
Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar told CNBC-TV18 that the night curfew was mainly meant to prevent youngsters from gathering for parties and bashes at pubs during New Year’s Eve and the holiday period.
“We are worried about 2,500 passengers who have come from the UK in the past 14 days. Till we test all of them, we would like to understand if there are infected people. This second strain from the UK is very contagious, and we have to take utmost precaution,” Sudhakar said.
The minister did not disclose if any of the UK returnees to the state had tested positive for COVID-19 over the last few weeks.