Bengaluru: In a U-turn, the Karnataka government on Thursday withdrew its night curfew order, hours before it was to comment into effect.
The decision to impose night curfew for nine days from 11 pm to 5 am starting from Thursday was taken on Wednesday in line with the Centre's advice, amid concerns over a new COVID-19 variant spreading in the UK.
In a statement, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said: "In view of the public opinion that there was no need for night curfew, the decision was reviewed and after consulting with cabinet colleagues and senior officials it has been decided to withdraw the night curfew."
Yediyurappa had initially announced yesterday that the night curfew will be imposed from December 23 till January 2 between 10 pm and 6 am.
Changes in night curfew dates and timing were announced later with Yediyurappa tweeting, it will be from December 24 till January 1, 2021, between 11 pm to 5 am (January 2, 5am).
The Chief Minister on Thursday appealed to the people to exercise self-restraint by wearing face-masks, hand hygiene and social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The decision to impose night curfew had drawn flak from the ruling as well as the opposition parties.
Terming the night curfew as a measure to 'cover up' wrongdoings of the BJP government by diverting public attention, Congress state chief D K Shivakumar said, "This is a government which is not accountable. It tries to divert public attention through various means.
How does the night curfew help containing the coronavirus?" Shivakumar asked.
BJP MLC A H Vishwanath, who is aspiring to become a minister, criticised the government's decision to impose night curfew.
"I request the government to reconsider its decision to impose night curfew. Some of the decisions should be taken after much deliberation because it's a government for the people," Vishwanath told media in Mysuru.
Another senior BJP leader and Vijayapura MLA, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal too urged the government to reconsider its decision on the restrictions.
Earlier in the day, Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar defended the government's move to impose night curfew saying it was done on the advice of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for COVID-19.
Speaking to reporters in the city, he said, "TAC had recommended imposing night curfews from 8 pm onwards as a precautionary measure. However, after much deliberation we decided to restrict movement of individuals from 11 pm to 5 am."
Reacting to criticism of the government's move, Sudhakar sought to know what important economic activities take place at night.
"When all the essential services, healthcare facilities and transport are well in place, I would like to know whom the night curfew is going to affect?" he asked.
As the festival season started from December 24, the minister opined that thousands of youth may step out in the night for celebrations.