Bengaluru: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwath Narayan on Thursday said that due to concerns of a fresh spike in COVID-19 cases, employees of IT firms in Karnataka will continue to work from home for some more months.

"Employees of IT or software firms in the state will be allowed to work from their home for more months, as the pandemic is expected to persist for some more time," Ashwath Narayan, who is also in-charge of IT, BT and Science and Technology portfolios, told the Assembly.

The state government cannot direct or mandate companies to open offices, he further said. “They will open up eventually when the time is right. There is no thought before the government to ask companies to make its employees attend work at offices. The situation isn’t appropriate for us to ask so as well,” he said.

The IT sector in Karnataka had performed well in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, Narayan said. “Technology came to the rescue. Startups and innovation haven’t stopped,” he pointed out.

Asking employees to work remotely, IT companies in Bengaluru, closed their offices as early as March due to Covid-19. The Centre has extended connectivity norms for work-from-home for IT and BPO firms till December 31, 2020.

“Only seven to eight percent of the workforce is working from the office while others continue to work from home. Because of this, productivity has gone down. We should press companies to open offices,” Hoskote MLA Sharath Bachegowda who worked in the corporate sector before entering politics said.

Meanwhile, Udupi MLA K Raghupati Bhat said that this delay has affected the livelihood of many employees working in the IT sector.  “With IT companies yet to resume operations from office, cabs, canteens, and others dependent on these for a livelihood are getting affected,” he said.

However, the Deputy CM said working remotely was still the safer option due to the ongoing pandemic situation. “Once offices open up, these ancillary services will also get back on track,” Ashwath Narayan said.

Over 8.97 lakh people have contracted coronavirus in Karnataka of which 19,206 succumbed to the same till date. More than 8.66 lakh people have recuperated from the infection since the first case was recorded on March 8.