The 'no mask, no service' policy will be strictly enforced after the ongoing lockdown is relaxed, says the state minister for public administration
The restrictions on movement are likely to be relaxed to some extent from April 28, two weeks before the Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest religious festival of the Muslims.
But there has not been any final decision yet and it is not clear right now to which extent the restrictions will be slackened. “The decision will be taken on April 28,” State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told UNB.
“Even if the restrictions are relaxed, we’ll have to properly maintain health guidelines and the government will ensure strict implementation of ‘no mask, no service’ policy,” he said.
Farhad said health guidelines will be ensured after the shops and shopping malls are opened from April 25.
“Covid infections can be kept in check if all of us follow health guidelines, wear masks and maintain recommended physical distancing,” he said. “We’ll get a positive result if we follow the restrictions until April 28. We’re focusing on health rules.”
No decision on public transport
Asked what the relaxed lockdown will look like, State Minister Farhad said there won’t be many restrictions. “The existing ones will be limited. There’ll be guidelines for daily life,” he said.
A circular will be issued within April 28 on the operation of offices.
Farhad said they are discussing the public transport issue. “There hasn’t been any decision yet. But once they resume, we’ll ensure that health rules are strictly followed,” he noted.
Health safety measures such as wearing masks and maintaining recommended physical distance are often ignored on public transports.
Although public transports were shut during the lockdown, the government eventually allowed its operation in city corporation areas on April 7, the third day of the first spell of lockdown.
Shops reopening from April 25
Shops and shopping malls were shut from April 5 with a spurt in covid cases and deaths.
But the shopkeepers and traders waged street protests demanding the reopening of businesses. They argued that they had suffered massive losses last year during the lockdown.
Eid-ul-Fitr is generally the busiest time for businesses but last year’s Eid was celebrated amid the covid outbreak. Businesses had suffered huge losses.
Traders argued that a repetition of last year’s scenario will be devastating for them. The government acceded to their demand and allowed them to operate from 9am to 5pm from April 9 to April 13.
On Friday, the Cabinet Division issued a notice allowing shops and shopping malls to operate from April 25 (10am-5pm) on condition that they maintain proper safety protocols.
A sudden rise in coronavirus infection and deaths prompted the government to initially issue an 18-point directive and then go for a weeklong lockdown from early April. But as it failed to achieve the expected results, the government went for ‘strict lockdown’ from April 11 and extended it to April 28.
In April alone, the country recorded 1,823 deaths and 124,935 new cases. The death toll in the first 23 deaths is more than the combined fatalities reported in January (568), February (281) and March (638).
Between April 16 and April 19, the country reported over 100 daily deaths. The fatalities were over 90 in the next three days.
Daily cases had shot past 7,000 on several occasions this month.
Local and international health experts have predicted that the country’s coronavirus situation was unlikely to improve before June.