Lockdown extended until May 16

Public transport can operate within cities

The government has extended the ongoing lockdown till May 16 considering the current Covid-19 pandemic situation. 

Long distance inter-district buses, trains and launches will also remain suspended, but public transport within the the cities and towns will be allowed to resume with strict health safety rules in place within the boundaries of cities and districts to start from May 6.

The decision was taken at the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday held virtually with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair from her official residence Ganabhaban ahead of Eid festival to be celebrated around the middle of May.

Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam made the disclosure at a press briefing after the meeting at the secretariat.

The Cabinet secretary said the government will close down markets if the authorities fail to comply with the health safety guidelines.

“Strict action will be taken against anyone who doesn’t wear a face mask,” he said. “From today, police, city corporations and the local administration will supervise markets across the country.”

“If there are too many people at these markets, that may not be controllable, but if there are too many people without masks wandering around, then the markets will be closed. We hope that the store owners’ associations will support us on this matter,” Islam said.

In this connection, he said the Shop Owners Association has assured the government that they would cooperate with the administration in this regard.

He also said that there will be no extra holiday except the three-day for the Holy Eid-ul-Fitr festival. 

About the Eid vacation for industries operating during the restrictions, the cabinet secretary said that the three-day public holidays on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr may begin on May 14 that includes weekends -- Friday and Saturday and offices concerned would not be allowed to extend the vacation.

Regarding the plying of intra-district public transport, he said that the public transport will also have to follow the health safety guidelines.

“If there is any violation, we will shut down that public transport. The owners of the public transport also assured us about complying with the health safety guidelines,” he said.

Asked whether people returning home for Eid celebrations would suffer, the cabinet secretary said, “There are three public holidays set aside for Eid festival. Two of these days are Friday and Saturday. There will be no additional holiday after these three days.”

In Bangladesh, limited restrictions were in place from 5-11 April to tame the second wave of the pandemic. Later, a one-week nationwide lockdown was enforced from 14 April, which was then extended until 28 April. It was further extended till 5 May.

The restrictions shut public and private offices and public transport services except those providing emergency services. But factories were allowed to remain open if they followed health safety regulations.

Shopping malls and stores were also initially shut down, but this restriction was later eased on Apr 25.

Meanwhile, the border with India was closed for 14 days, starting on 26 April, as Covid-19 has taken a dangerous turn in the neighboring country.