Govt to enforce stay at home
The government plans to go all out to make sure that people stay at home during the "strict lockdown" to be enforced from Thursday to stem the surge in Covid deaths and infections.
It is going to deploy army personnel across the country with the task of enforcing the restrictions and keeping people off the streets.
"Members of the army, police, Border Guard Bangladesh and the Armed Police Battalion will be on patrol. They have been given the authority to take appropriate action so that people don't step out of their homes…," Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said yesterday.
He was briefing the media after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Asked what kind of action army personnel will take to enforce the lockdown, he said, "They will carry out patrol. If anyone defies the lockdown, they [army personnel] can take legal action."
He did not give any direct answer to a question whether the army personnel would be given magistracy power.
Talking to The Daily Star, former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder said there are different types of legal actions that can be taken.
"Charging baton for unlawful gatherings is one kind of legal action… There are also mobile courts to take legal actions," he observed.
At yesterday's briefing, the cabinet secretary did not make it clear whether garment factories will stay open or rickshaws will be allowed to ply the roads.
He said they will meet with the home minister to discuss the lockdown in detail and the government decisions will be made public through a notification today.
Anwarul also said the government's relief distribution plan will be chalked out at a meeting today.
"The prime minister has given clear directives to the disaster management ministry to provide aid to the people under the social safety net programmes as in the previous year.
"You will get the details tomorrow [today]," he said.
Meanwhile, the country saw a record number of daily Covid cases yesterday, a day after it logged the highest daily death toll.
Of the 35,059 samples tested yesterday, 8,364 were found Covid positive. It is the highest number of infections on a single day since the detection of the first Covid patient in the country on March 8 last year.
The cabinet secretary said they closely monitored the Covid situation in four divisions and found it to be deteriorating.
"We had no alternative but to impose strict restrictions."
He further said the government could not impose the lockdown before June 30 due to some "practical" reasons.
In the previous phases of restrictions on public and vehicular movement, the police issued passes to people for outdoor movement.
Asked if such permits will be issued in the upcoming lockdown, the cabinet secretary said, "This time there will be no movement passes. No one will be allowed to step out of home."
Emergency services will remain out of the purview of the restrictions, he mentioned.
On Saturday evening, the Cabinet Division decided that the nationwide "total and complete" lockdown would be enforced from July 1, not June 28.
It announced a "limited-scale" lockdown for three days from June 28.
Earlier on Friday evening, the PID issued a press statement and stated that the country would be put under a lockdown from Monday until further notice.
This was the first time the government used the word "lockdown" indicating the strict nature of restrictions about to be put in place.
Around half an hour later, the PID issued another statement saying the lockdown will be in force for a week.
Meanwhile, the closure of borders with India has been extended for 14 more days till July 14.
The decision was made at an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen yesterday.
Travel to and from India through the land ports has been suspended since April 21 amid a spike in Covid deaths and infections in that country. Goods-carrying vehicles, however, are allowed to operate.