Karnataka night curfew serves no purpose

Karnataka night curfew serves no purpose

Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa. Credit: PTI Photo

Does the coronavirus strike only during night? The 10 pm-5 am night curfew imposed by the Karnataka government from April 10-20 in eight cities -- Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Udupi, Manipal, Tumakuru, Kalaburagi and Bidar -- is illogical, unscientific and not backed by any empirical evidence that the virus is nocturnal and remains muted during the day. Night curfews have been imposed previously, too, each time there has been a surge in infections, but to no effect. Yet, the government tries the same trick again. This is only an eyewash, aimed at convincing people into believing that the government is doing something to contain the pandemic, given the state’s failure to meet its own vaccination target. Most business establishments are anyway shut by 10 pm, except for movie theatres, liquor bars and some restaurants. It is irrational to believe that late-night movie-goers or those eating out after 10 pm would cause the virus to surge while many other activities, including political rallies and religious events, can be allowed to take place without any consequences. Besides, no restrictions have been imposed on public transport from Covid hotspots to other districts, either during the day or night. Thus, in effect, the curfew serves virtually no purpose.   

To add to the confusion, Deputy Commissioners (DC) of several districts have been passing whimsical orders violating instructions that no minister, department or officer can impose Covid-related restrictions without the approval of the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary. Mysuru DC Rohini Sindhuri issued an advisory that anybody entering the city from Bengaluru should possess an RT-PCR negative certificate that is not older than 72 hours. Thousands of people travel from Mysuru to Bengaluru and back on work each day, while thousands more from Bengaluru transit through Mysuru to various destinations. Going a step further, the district administration made it mandatory for people to carry a Covid-negative certificate to gain entry into convention halls, cinemas, resorts and recreation clubs. Similarly, Kodagu DC Charulata Somal banned entry to all tourist places and shutdown homestays and resorts. Fortunately, all such orders issued by the DCs without the Chief Secretary’s nod have now been rescinded by the government.

Instead of indulging in gimmicks, the state government should strictly promote Covid-appropriate behaviour and come down heavily on violations, especially large gatherings. But it should first ramp up vaccination coverage as even after over 80 days since vaccination started, just about 1% of the state’s population has been inoculated. Unfortunately, a clear vision has been lacking on decisions regarding Covid right from the start, and the virus is having a field day while the government continues to flounder with one capricious directive after another.