No long-route public transports as government discourages homebound rush
The people of Bangladesh are set to observe another Eid-ul-Fitr with restrictions on public movement as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be rampant across the country.
The government in a gazette notification on Wednesday extended the ongoing restrictions, which include the suspension of all long-route public transports except aircraft, until after the Eid vacation on May 16. The move was taken as the large-scale movement of people returning home for the Eid holidays would pose a severe risk of Covid-19 spreading in the country.
However, public transports will be allowed to operate within cities and districts while maintaining health safety protocols from Thursday.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder told Dhaka Tribune: “City buses will not be allowed outside the cities, and district buses will not be allowed to leave the districts. We plan to strictly implement the government decision to suspend long-route public transports.
“A vigilance team will monitor the situation, and mobile courts will be operated as long as the restrictions on movement are in effect,” he added.
According to the gazette notification, officials of all government, semi-government, autonomous and private organizations, banks and financial institutions have been asked to remain at their respective workstations during the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.
Earlier, the cabinet decided there would only be a three-day holiday, including the weekend, for the garments sector this Eid. However, many people are still planning to leave Dhaka once city and district bus services resume, or by hiring private vehicles as such vehicles do not come under the restrictions.
‘People must become aware of gravity of Covid-19’
Farhad Hossain, state minister of public administration, told Dhaka Tribune it was essential that people became aware of the seriousness of Covid-19.
“The government can enforce laws strictly, but the people must become aware of the gravity of Covid-19. Rushing home during a pandemic only puts your family at risk,” he said.
“People will face massive suffering if they try to use the district and city buses to return to their village homes during the restrictions. The buses will not be able to cross the city or district border, and they may end up being stranded,” the state minister added.
Officials of Bangladesh Railway and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority said they would enforce restrictions on public movement strictly until further notice.
Shops and malls will remain open from 10am to 8pm while maintaining strict hygiene rules. Shop owners have promised that they will not allow more than 50% of customer capacity in their shops at any time, and any shops that are found to be in violation will be shut down.
In addition to magistrates, city mayors will also visit shopping malls to raise awareness of health safety measures and ensure that they are being properly implemented.
Atiqul Islam, mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation, on Wednesday visited and inspected Gulshan Shopping Centre.
Following the inspection, the mayor said no one would be allowed in malls without wearing masks, and any one found to be violating health safety rules would be punished.
The government has also encouraged people to shop online. Restrictions on all social, political and religious gatherings continue to be in effect.
In Bangladesh, limited restrictions were put in place from April 5-11 to bring surging Covid-19 cases and deaths under control. The restrictions were subsequently extended on multiple occasions.