Gazette notification to be issued on Tuesday
The government has decided to relax the ongoing strict Covid-19 lockdown from Thursday till July 22, considering the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha.
During this time, cattle markets will remain open. Public transport will also resume on a limited scale and shopping malls and stores will be reopened while maintaining health guidelines.
All government offices will continue their activities online, but private offices will remain closed.
However, after the Eid holidays, the strict lockdown will be in place again for 14 more days from July 23. Eid will be celebrated on July 21, according to a press note from the Press Information Department (PID).
PID said a gazette notification on the easing of restrictions would be issued by the Cabinet Division on Tuesday.
According to high-level Cabinet Division officials who spoke to Dhaka Tribune on condition of anonymity, the decision was made in consideration of the livelihoods of the country’s poor population, who have been suffering the most due to the lockdown.
The authorities are also keen on permitting some markets for sacrificial cattle ahead of the Eid while maintaining compliance with health safety rules. Furthermore, allowing people more time to return to their village homes may reduce the homebound rush at bus, ferry and train stations, the Cabinet Division officials said.
Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan has said trains will resume operating at half passenger capacity in each compartment from Thursday. Tickets will only be available online.
Jahangir Alam Khan, public relations officer of the Shipping Ministry, said: “We haven’t received any instructions from the government regarding water transport resumption. We will resume once instructed.”
Enayetullah Khan, leader of a bus owners’ association, told Dhaka Tribune: “We are waiting for a government decision on bus service resumption ahead of Eid.”
The government had stopped all forms of public transport, including buses, ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. However, millions of people still left Dhaka for the vacation, despite appeals from the authorities not to do so as it would lead to a surge in Covid-19 transmission.
On May 12, five people were killed and more than 50 others were injured in a rush to get off two ferries at Banglabazar in Madaripur. To avoid similar incidents this Eid, the government wants to keep public transport running.
However, health authorities and experts have warned that if the current situation is not mitigated properly, the ongoing Covid-19 crisis will deteriorate further.
The government had imposed a stricter-than-before lockdown across Bangladesh from July 1.
It was later extended for another week, which will end at midnight on Wednesday, even as Covid cases and deaths are on a steep rise in the country.
Bangladesh recorded 220 deaths in the 24 hours between 8am Sunday and 8am Monday.
Besides, 13,768 new cases were also recorded during the same period – the highest single-day figure since March last year.