Stern action if ineligible factories run
The government will take stern action if ineligible factories are kept open during the ongoing two-week-long strict lockdown that began on July 23, said Farhad Hossain, state minister for public administration.
"The way the coronavirus has spread, there is no alternative to strict restrictions. If anyone opens (a factory), legal action will be taken," he said after the cabinet meeting yesterday, on the day the country reported the highest single-day deaths from Covid-19.
Hossain's comment comes as some factories are running amid the lockdown in violation of the government directive put in place to rein in the runaway Covid-19 caseload and fatalities.
Factories pertaining to food processing; poultry food; pharmaceuticals; backward linkage of pharmaceuticals like chemical, plastic, packaging, glass, medical equipment; leather; edible oil; detergent and hand sanitisers; fish processing; and soft drinks are allowed to stay open during the lockdown.
Only those garment factories or units that make face masks or personal protective equipment can run amid the movement control order, intended to be the most stringent yet since the pandemic began in March last year.
The decision, which came on the eve of the three-day Eid-ul-Azha holidays, was a big blow to the garment and textile factory owners, who had lobbied ardently with the government to keep their plants out of the purview of the lockdown given the strict lead time of the export orders.
In case that could not be managed, they were lobbying to resume production from August 1 instead of August 5, when the lockdown ends.
But Hossain yesterday said the government has no plan yet to allow the garment factories to run before August 5.
"It is necessary to implement restrictions strictly," he added.
A total of 338 factories were running yesterday, according to Industrial Police's data, which had no sector-wise breakdown of industries.
Of the factories running as normal, 113 were in Gazipur, 15 in Chattogram, 57 in Narayanganj, 88 in Khulna, 32 in Mymensingh and 33 in Savar-Ashulia in operation.
Meanwhile, three factories in Gazipur that do not fall under any of the categories exempt from the government directive were fined Tk 80,000 each for staying open yesterday, according to a senior official of the Industrial Police.
However, one cement factory in Narayanganj was allowed to run due to emergency supply to the important government development projects.
Md Sakhwat Hossain, superintendent of police of industrial Police-1, said they were patrolling the industrial area in order to ensure that industries that are not allowed to remain open are not running during the coronavirus containment measures.