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The Karnataka government has decided to cautiously lift coronavirus lockdown restrictions in districts, including Bengaluru city, where the Covid-19 positivity rate and the number of new cases have declined.

In places where the positivity rate is more than 15% (about 11 districts), the Covid-induced lockdown will continue with the existing guidelines, Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar said on Thursday.

"Current restrictions will continue in all eleven districts with high positivity rate till 6 am on 21 June, in the rest of the districts some of the restrictions have been relaxed. However, concerned Deputy Commissioners and District in-charge Ministers can take a call to impose more restrictions in their districts," Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has said.

The relaxation in lockdown measures will be in place from 6 am on 14 June to 6 am on 21 June.

Few districts, including Chikmagalur, Shivamogga, Davanagere, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Bengaluru rural, Mandya, Belagavi and Kodagu, will be under complete lockdown till 21 June.

"From 14 June, these 11 districts will have some relaxation like the opening of essential shops," Sudhakar said.

The Covid-19 curfew will be imposed from 7 pm to 5 am and the weekend curfew will be imposed from 7 pm on Friday to 5 am on Monday, after the current lockdown in the state comes to end on 14 June.

Here's what's allowed, what's not:

Noting that restrictions are being relaxed in the rest of the state other than 11 districts, the Chief Minister said, all industries have been permitted to operate with 50% staff strength, but garment industries can operate with 30% staff strength.

Shops selling essential goods have been permitted to operate till 2 pm by extending their duration from 10 am earlier; also all construction activities will be permitted, and shops needed for construction activities like cement, steel among others have also been allowed to open, he said.

Parks will be opened from 5-10 am for walkers, street vendors can do their business from 6 am to 2 pm, and auto and taxis are allowed to ply with maximum two passengers, he added.

Responding to a question on public transport buses and the functioning of government officers, he said, for now, buses are not permitted to operate, while important departments of the government can operate with 50% staff.

Hotels and restaurants will continue to do parcel service and bars will be open for takeaways till 2 pm.

'Bring down positivity rate to less than 5%'

CM Yediyurappa today held a video conference with the deputy commissioners of eight districts and expressed concern over Covid-19 cases not decreasing as expected.

Pointing out the poor show in containing the pandemic in Belagavi, Chikkamagaluru, Dakshina Kannada, Hassan, Mysuru, Mandya, Shivamogga and Tumakuru districts, Yediyurappa asked the officials to continue the lockdown restrictions.

With just four days left to ease the curbs, which are in effect since 27 April, CM Yediyurappa told them that a decision regarding these districts will soon be taken.

"The cases have come down due to the stringent measures adopted by the state government during lockdown but they are not decreasing in these eight districts as expected. The chief minister expressed his anxiety over the increase in cases in rural areas," a statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office said.

The Chief Minister instructed the officers to bring down the positivity rate to less than 5%, the CMO said.

The Chief Minister instructed the officials to strictly ensure compliance of preventive measures to contain the pandemic. He also directed them to abide by the guidelines in the micro containment zones, the statement said.

CM Yediyurappa asked the deputy commissioners to intensify coronavirus tests, especially in Belagavi, and give the RT-PCR reports within 24 hours of the test.

The Karnataka government had initially announced 14 days 'close-down' from 27 April, but subsequently imposed a complete lockdown from 10 to 24 May, as the Covid-19 cases continued to spike.

Citing lockdown yielding results and experts' advice, it was further extended till 7 June and then again till 14 June.

Meanwhile, according to the state health department, Karnataka has recorded 11,042 new Covid-19 cases, 194 deaths, and 15,721 recoveries in a span of 24 hours.

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