'Strict lockdown': Factories to stay open; offices to close; transports, flights to be suspended | The Daily Star
11:41 PM, April 11, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:51 PM, April 11, 2021

'Strict lockdown': Factories to stay open; offices to close; transports, flights to be suspended

All public, private and autonomous offices will remain closed for a week from April 14, says a Cabinet Division proposal aimed at curbing the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths.

However, factories of export-oriented industries, including that of readymade garments, will stay open maintaining the health safety guidelines, it mentions.

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All public transport services -- bus, train, launch and regular flights -- as well as city bus services that resumed on April 7 amid the ongoing restrictions will remain suspended during the period. Private vehicles will also come under restrictions.

Emergency transport services and offices providing emergency services will remain out the purview of the restrictions, it said.

The proposal was sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last night following a high-level meeting on the Covid situation in the country, said Cabinet Division sources.

Upon her approval, the Division would issue a gazette notification in this regard on Monday, they said.

Chaired by Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, today's meeting was attended by the secretaries of the ministries concerned.

Though the fresh restrictions will be imposed for a week, the authorities are thinking of keeping those in force till April 30, the sources said.

The country is going to be put under strict restrictions amid a worsening Covid situation as the ongoing restrictions have apparently proved less effective in containing the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, the government today extended the ongoing restrictions on long-route transport services -- bus, train, launch and regular flights -- till 6:00am on April 14.

Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has suspended around 500 international flights to and from Dhaka for a week from April 14.

Today, people were seen leaving the capital in rickshaw vans, auto-rickshaws and pick-ups, assuming that the government would extend the ongoing restrictions.

Shopping malls and the stores selling essential goods saw a huge rush of shoppers trying to collect the necessary items.

All these developments came at a time when the country witnessed the highest number of Covid deaths in a day.

Seventy-eight people died from the virus in 24 hours till 8:00am today, taking the total number to 9,739. Besides, 5,819 new infections were recorded during the period, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.

Earlier on April 4, the Cabinet Division issued an 11-point directive with a set of restrictions to be effective from 6:00am on April 5 to 12:00am on April 11 to contain the spread of Covid. It said violators of the directives would face punishment.

Various offices, mills and factories were exempt from the restrictions and the government allowed resumption of bus services in all 11 cities from April 7.

On April 8, the government announced that shops and malls could be kept open for eight hours from April 9 to April 13 despite concerns from health experts.

People in large numbers were seen coming out on the streets to buy commodities from shops or to go to offices and businesses. People began hanging out at tea-stalls in their neighbourhood. Very few steps by the authorities were noticed in enforcing the restrictions.

Experts doubted whether the half-hearted enforcement of restrictions would be effective at all.

On Friday, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain said the country would be under a strict "lockdown" for a week from April 14.

SUSPENSION OF INT'L FLIGHTS

CAAB has suspended international flights for a week from April 14 as it will be very difficult for passengers to reach Dhaka Airport during the strict restrictions all over the country.

"It would not be possible for air passengers to reach the airport to catch flights," CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman told The Daily Star today.

He, however, said there would be no restrictions on chartered flights, cargo flights, air ambulance and special flights.

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