The government is likely to extend the ongoing shutdown of most of the public and private offices till May 30 to curb further spread of Covid-19 in the country.
It may also extend the Eid holidays for a couple of days. Depending on the sighting of the moon, the Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated either on May 24 or 25.
The ongoing shutdown is to end on May 16.
Seeking anonymity, a member of the cabinet told The Daily Star that the government may extend the shutdown till May 30 and the Eid holidays for a couple of days.
A secretary of the government also echoed the cabinet member's words.
"I have learnt that the government is going to extend the ongoing shutdown. An announcement in this regard is expected to come in a day or two," said the secretary on the condition of anonymity.
Sources at different ministries gave similar information.
The government moves to extend the shutdown at a time when the country is witnessing a growing number of deaths and coronavirus cases. It will be the six extension of the shutdown that was enforced on March 26 to check the spread of the deadly virus.
Most of the public and private offices have been shut since then. All essential services and vehicles carrying goods remain out of its purview. Some government offices involved in providing emergency services have also been kept open on a limited scale.
The government on April 23, while extending the closure till May 5, said factories, including pharmaceuticals and export-oriented manufacturing units, could reopen by ensuring the workers' safety.
It also issued a gazette notification on May 4, announcing its decision to reopen shopping malls, shops and other businesses from May 10 on a limited scale ahead of the Eid.
The following day, the 17-member National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 recommended reconsidering the government decision to reopen shopping malls and other businesses, saying such a move could lead to further transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Besides, in a report last week, the eight-member technical committee, formed by the government, said the Covid-19 outbreak may peak in the third or fourth week of this month.
However, several independent experts said it is too early to make such a prediction.
A reliable prediction would have been possible had there been more testing and stricter coronavirus restrictions, they said.
Amid such a situation, many big shopping malls in the capital decided not to reopen before the Eid. However, many shops and business centres reopened and the number of people stepping out of homes has increased significantly.
Meanwhile, the number of factories resuming operation is going up every day.
Of the 7,602 export-oriented factories across the country, at least 3,916 reopened as of yesterday, according to the industrial police. The number was 1,427 on April 26 when garment factories started reopening after a one-month closure.
GUIDELINES FOR GOVT OFFICES
The health ministry on Monday sent to the Cabinet Division a 13-point guideline for reopening any government offices.
In the letter, it said the housing and public works ministry could set up the required number of disinfectant tunnels, and offices need to be disinfected before reopening.
It also called for setting up thermal scanners for checking body temperature of staffers while entering offices, disinfect transport facilities, and ensure social distancing and use of masks by all.
The health ministry also recommended monitoring whether all the staffers are following the health-safety directives properly.
If any of the staffers develop Covid-19 symptoms, he or she has to be put in isolation immediately, it mentioned.