'The number of people on the roads increased from Monday'
A growing number of people in Dhaka are leaving their homes, even though the government is preparing to extend the 10-day shutdown called to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The 10-day “general holiday” called by the government to enforce social distancing is scheduled to end on April 4. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced that the holiday may be extended, tentatively until April 9.
Although going outdoors continues to be discouraged by the authorities, increased foot traffic was reported at grocery stores, religious institutions and emergency service providers in various parts of the capital on Tuesday, as compared to the first five days of the lockdown.
In Kalabagan, a number of people were seen roaming on the streets while others were finishing their prayers at Bashir Uddin Road mosque in the afternoon.
Shop owner Al Amin told Dhaka Tribune: “The number of people on the roads increased from Monday. We have to be conscious of our actions, or the pandemic may get worse.
He added that he asks his customers to keep their distance from one another if multiple people enter the store at the same time.
Jalal Uddin Bhuiya, another shopkeeper, echoed that more people were outside recently and had come to his shop to avail mobile banking services.
Meanwhile, vehicular traffic in Dhanmondi and on Mirpur Road was still lower than usual, but higher in the past five days.
Private car driver Md Ibrahim said: “We normally need an hour to go to Mohammadpur from City College, but these days we need 5-10 minutes. The lack of traffic and pollution is quite enjoyable.”
The Karwan Bazar area was one of the busiest, as the biggest wholesale kitchen market of the city is situated there.
Anwar Hussain, a rickshaw puller in Kamrangirchar who is from Nilphamari, said the increase in business was welcome.
“I could not return to my village as public transports were shut. Many people helped us during the past five days by giving us food twice a day,” he added.
Most tea stalls in the city were still closed. A few grocery stores were offering tea and coffee in one-time-use cups.
The Public Administration Ministry has sent a summary on the extension of holidays till April 9 to the prime minister, which is being process. The ministry hopes to get it approved, said Sheikh Yusuf Harun, secretary of the ministry.
“The holidays are ultimately set until April 11, as the April 10 and 11 are general holidays,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Moreover, public administration officials, including executive magistrates, and law enforcement officials are running awareness raising programs on coronavirus, encouraged people to stay home.
Media reports said crowds had been forming in Rangpur and Madaripur, making it difficult for officials to ensure social distancing.