San Francisco and Bengaluru, tech capitals, hunker down as COVID surges


San Francisco and Bengaluru, the tech capitals of the United States and India respectively, hunkered down for another lockdown round as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to rage.

In California, authorities have shut indoor activities at restaurants and museums. Other operations, including barbershops and hair salons, in 30 of 58 counties will be shut as well due to a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

According to the state government’s official website, effective from Monday, all counties must close indoor operations in the sections including dine-in restaurants; wineries and tasting rooms; movie theaters; card rooms, zoos and museums; and family entertainment centers such as bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades.

Meanwhile, 30 counties, where 80 percent of Californians live, will now be required to close indoor business operations in fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, hair salons and barbershops, and malls.

Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted the announcements, saying the state made the decision because “COVID-19 cases continue to spread at alarming rates”.

As of Monday, California had more than 326,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 7,000 total deaths, according to a tally by The Los Angeles Times.

The state’ data monitoring system showed that 109,910 new cases and 1,104 deaths have been reported in the past 14 days.

Also in a joint statement on Monday, Los Angeles and San Diego school districts, which have nearly 870,000 students combined, said the new school year will start online only since the pandemic is not yet under control.

“Instruction will resume on Aug. 18 in Los Angeles Unified and Aug. 31 in San Diego Unified, as previously scheduled,” the statement said, adding that “both districts will continue planning for a return to in-person learning during the 2020-21 academic year, as soon as public health conditions allow”.

The decision was made amid the President Donald Trump administration’s threat to withhold federal funding from schools that do not reopen for in-person instruction this fall.

The US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Sunday renewed her push for schools to reopen.

However, the two school districts argued in Monday’s statement that the authority should provide confidence to local residents that opening schools in the middle of a public health crisis is the best option for children, saying: “The federal government must provide schools with the resources we need to reopen in a responsible manner.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District is the largest public school system in California and the 2nd largest public school district in the country wit

In India, Bengaluru was among many cities that are going into a second wave of lockdowns.

The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has suspended all its operations, including the bus service, for a week from July 15 to 21 and only 134 skeletal essential services will be operated.

During the lockdown, the city bus service will operate 134 essential services, excluding the containment zones, for 12 hours between 7am and 7pm.

Only selected essential services providers working in government departments and others, students attending examinations and those taking trains and flights will be allowed to move out.

Karnataka registered 2,738 new COVID-19 cases with the majority of them emerging from state capital Bengaluru, breaching the 40,000 mark for the state’s tally to settle at 41,581, even as 73 people succumbed to the virus.

Bengaluru accounted for the highest number of infections with 1,315 or 48 per cent of the new cases. With the addition of new cases, the city tally rose to 19,702, out of which 15,052 are active. Alarmingly, the city alone accounts for 61 per cent of all the active cases in the southern Indian state.

Amid the surging COVID cases daily since July 1, the Karnataka government has decided to re-impose a total lockdown in Bengaluru Urban and Rural districts from July 14 till July 22.

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