Prescribe size for closed and open areas for gatherings: HC

The Karnataka government has allowed gatherings of 200 persons in closed spaces and 500 people in open areas

The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday said that the State government must immediately step in to modify its recent COVID-19 guidelines, which allows gathering of 200 persons in closed spaces and 500 people in open areas, by prescribing the minimum size of the closed and open areas.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar issued the directions while hearing a batch of PIL petitions related to issues that cropped up due to implementation of lockdown and unlock processes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The bench prima facie found merit in the argument made on behalf of some of the petitioners that allowing gatherings of 200 persons in closed spaces and 500 people in open areas is meaningless without specifying the minimum size of the areas in which such large gatherings can be held. It was pointed out on behalf of petitioners that allowing a gathering of 200 to 500 people in small areas could lead to quick spread of COVID-19.

On allegations by the petitioners that the State government is dilly-dallying with the guidelines on account of pressure from various groups, the bench directed the government to submit the notifications in which guidelines related to cinema halls and gymnasiums were relaxed.

Surprise inspection

Meanwhile, the bench directed the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to conduct surprise inspection of various establishments, including residential apartment complexes, to ensure that guidelines, like prohibition of use of swimming pools and party halls, are being adhered to.

As the government has re-issued the guideline for earmarking beds in private hospitals for COVID-19 patients as was done in June last year, the bench directed the government to enforce the court’s earlier directions to ensure transparency in providing information on bed availability, and display rates for treatment of COVID-19 patients in private hospitals.

Source link