Despite the ongoing strict lockdown, a relatively crowded Shonir Akhra road in the capital is pictured on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 Mehedi Hasan / Dhaka Tribune
All offices, banks and markets will reopen as well as public transport
Bangladesh is expected to ease most ongoing restrictions on public travel and gatherings across the country from Wednesday as part of the government’s efforts to phase out virus brakes.
The Cabinet division issued a circular on Sunday confirming that the strict nationwide lockdown will not be extended beyond its current deadline on Tuesday.
Starting Wednesday, all offices, banks, financial institutions, factories and markets will reopen while strictly adhering to government-issued health security protocols.
Land, rail and river public transport services will also resume their activities.
Earlier today, Minister of State for Public Administration Farhad Hossain said lockdown restrictions would be gradually lifted as part of the government’s efforts to maintain a balance between the phasing out of Covid restrictions and containment of the spread.
Read also- Shortage of doses, endless queues in vaccination centers
The decision to maintain economic activities was taken with the needs of low-income people in mind, he said.
Mushtaq Hossain, adviser at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said: “According to public health guidelines, everything should be closed until the situation improves because the number of infections and deaths is still at a dangerous stage. But Bangladesh does not have this capacity.
“Maybe our country will one day become a welfare state, but that’s not the situation right now. The government’s financial limitations forced it to make the decision.
He feared infections could increase due to the resumption of public transport as well as markets and offices.
Passenger transport at full capacity
According to the circular, buses, trains and boats can resume passenger transport at full capacity from Wednesday.
However, in the case of road transport, local governments – after consulting with law enforcement agencies, relevant offices and agencies, as well as associations of transport owners and workers in their jurisdictions – may allow daily traffic for less than half of vehicles.
The authorities concerned must ensure the maintenance of health security protocols issued by the government to contain the transmission of Covid-19 on all means of transport, adds the circular.
Read also- Bangladesh lifts lockdown restrictions in phases
Violating health safety rules could lead to legal consequences, and the authorities concerned should bear them, he added.
When contacted, Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association General Secretary Khandaker Enayetullah told Dhaka Tribune: “We are just following the instructions of the government and we will do the same this time around.
He said the transmission of Covid would not increase significantly despite public transport packed with passengers. “If the flights can run at full capacity, then why is there a problem with the buses? “
Meanwhile, Bangladesh rail authorities announced the operation of 38 pairs of intercity trains and 19 pairs of postal and commuter trains from Wednesday.
Only 50% of tickets will be sold online while the rest will be at the ticket offices from Monday.
Stores and malls will be open for 10 hours
According to the government decree, stores, malls and markets in Bangladesh can do business for 10 hours a day.
On the other hand, restaurants and brasseries will be allowed to operate catering services at half their capacity from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
All types of factories will also be allowed to reopen from Wednesday. Previously, the government had only allowed export-oriented factories and factories to resume operations from August 1.
Read also – Public transport will resume its activities on August 11
The circular focused on ensuring safety protocols, health guidelines and social distancing rules in public transport.
People will still need to wear masks at all times while going out and maintain sanitary restrictions, according to the circular.
Bangladesh has been under strict lockdown since July 1 with a break between July 15 and July 22.
The lockdown was restarted on July 23 to last until August 5, but was then extended to August 10 given the Covid situation.
July marked the deadliest month for Bangladesh with 6,182 deaths, and the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down as the country has recorded more than 200 deaths every day in August so far.