Shopping malls thrive amid lax lockdown | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 03, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:07 AM, May 03, 2021

Shopping malls thrive amid lax lockdown

Transport workers demand resumption of services

Lockdown imposed by the government to contain the second wave of Covid-19 appears to be in place only on paper, as there are little to no restrictions being implemented in reality. 

Roads and shopping malls are crowded with vehicles and people amid the pandemic.

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With Eid-ul-Fitr ahead, shopping centres and malls are filled with customers.

Visiting some major shopping malls and markets in Dhaka -- New Market, Chandni Chawk, Gausia, Noor Mansion, Chandrima Super Market, and Bashundhara City Mall – yesterday, The Daily Star correspondents found customers pouring into the shops from 10am.

At most shopping centres, maintaining the health and safety rules appeared a big challenge due to the heavy flow of customers.

At the entry points of some markets, antiseptic mix was sprayed on customers, instead of providing them with hand sanitisers. Besides, there was not enough space inside most of the shops to maintain physical distancing.

During iftar, people were seen sitting in groups on the floors of Bashundhara City to take their meal.

Meanwhile, shop owners demanded the business hour be extended till 12am, keeping iftar time in mind. 

Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity (shop owners' association) sent a letter to the Prime Minister's Office in this regard.

In the letter, they said that although the shops open at 10am, a good number of customers come in the afternoon from 3pm and do their shopping till 5:30pm before iftar. Many do their shopping after office time, so there is a heavy crowd of customers in malls starting from the afternoon.

On the other hand, as the businesses close by 8pm, few customers visit after iftar.

So the organisation demanded to extend the business hour till 12am ahead of Eid.

In the letter, they claimed that 95 percent people wear masks during shopping at the markets. However, during visits to popular markets and shopping malls, this correspondent found that many shopkeepers and customers wear masks incorrectly, and frequently take the masks off.

WORKERS DEMAND PUBLIC TRANSPORTAT RESUMPTION

Meanwhile transport workers yesterday brought out a procession in some parts of the city including Gabtoli and Sayedabad to press home their three-point demand including resumption of public transport services maintaining health protocols.

The workers, under the banner of Dhaka Metropolitan Road Transport Workers' Union, brought out the procession in the morning.

They also demanded food assistance for unemployed transport workers.

On Friday, the transport owners' association urged the government to immediately resume bus service in the country. The following day, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said that the government is considering resumption of public transport services in the country ahead of Eid.

Public transport services have been suspended in the country since April 5, with the government announcing a countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Although operations of buses, train and launches have remained suspended, traffic movement on streets has increased significantly.

Yesterday, heavy traffic congestion was seen on Mirpur road, Technical area, New Market, Elephant road, Bangla Motor, Panthapath, and Karwan Bazar areas.

Witnesses said, the crowd was heavier yesterday because of transport workers' protest and people rushing to the shopping centres.

Restrictions were imposed on the movement of people and public transportation to contain the second wave of Covid-19 on April 5. The restrictions have been extended until May 5 in phases.

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