No homegoing for Eid this time | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 04, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:49 AM, May 04, 2021

No homegoing for Eid this time

Govt decides to keep all inter-district services suspended; ‘lockdown’ stretched till May 16; no extra Eid leave in addition to three days

The government has decided to extend the ongoing lockdown till May 16 to contain the spread of Covid-19, keeping suspended inter-district bus, launch and train services during the period.

However, public transport will be allowed to operate within the cities and districts from May 6.

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Besides, there will be a three-day holiday for the Eid-ul-Fitr. No extra holidays will be given.

The decisions were made yesterday at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She joined the meeting at the Secretariat via video conferencing.

The government has put restrictions on operation of public transport since April 5 amid a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said no inter-district buses, launches or trains will operate during the period.

In normal times, 80 lakh to 1.2 crore people leave Dhaka, Narayanganj and Gazipur for village homes to celebrate the Eid with their loved ones, according to passenger welfare organisations.

Anwarul also said the government will be tougher to make people wear masks to curb the spread of the virus.

The local administration will conduct drives in markets and shopping malls across the country and monitor whether the market authorities are following the health safety guidelines properly, he mentioned.

"If any of the markets or malls is found flouting the guidelines, it will be shut if necessary."

He also said the Shop Owners Association has assured the government that it will cooperate with the administration in this regard and also see that the health safety guidelines are properly followed at markets.

Anwarul warned that action will be taken if anyone is found outside without a mask.

About inter-district transport, he said public transport operators will have to ensure that the health safety guidelines are followed properly.

"Transport operators have given us assurance in this regard… But if there is any violation of the guidelines, we will shut the transport service."

He also mentioned that no organisations -- public or private -- will be allowed to grant extra holidays to their employees for the Eid.

The cabinet secretary said this when it was pointed out that a large number of factory workers leave the capital en masse during the Eid holiday.

"The government has decided not to extend the holiday. The three-day holiday will start on Thursday, and the remaining two days are weekends -- Friday and Saturday," he added.

Following the meeting, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said, "Once the infection rate shoots up, it takes a long time to bring it down… Now if we lift the lockdown, all our achievements will go in vain."

He referred to high infection and death rates in cities, including Dhaka, Chattogram and Khulna, and said these city corporation areas will be monitored strictly.

In reply to a query, he said around five lakh doses of Covid vaccine will arrive from China by May 10.

"We've sent a proposal to China for procuring more vaccines," he said, adding that the government has a plan to buy 5-6 crore doses.

Last week, Bangladesh government approved emergency use of China's Sinopharm vaccine.

Earlier in the day, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said public transports cannot cross the boundaries of cities and districts by any means.

"Transport owners must keep half of the seats in vehicles vacant…," he said, adding that transport workers and passengers must wear masks and use hand sanitizers.

The buses must be disinfected after every trip, he mentioned.



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