Proposal sent to prime minister seeking approval
The government has decided to extend the ongoing lockdown by another seven days, till April 28.
The decision was reached at an inter-ministerial meeting with Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam in the chair at the Bangladesh Secretariat in Dhaka on Monday.
“It has been decided to extend the ongoing lockdown from April 22 to 28. A proposal has been sent in this regard to the prime minister for her approval, following which a gazette notification will be issued,” said State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain.
The move comes in line with the recommendation of the national advisory panel, he said.
On Sunday, the Covid-19 National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) recommended extending the lockdown by a week to stem the steep increase of the deadly virus in the country.
Amid the resurgence in infections and deaths, the NTAC recommended a complete lockdown for at least two weeks. The country has meanwhile been under a lockdown for two weeks since April 7.
It suggested reviewing the infection rate before ending the lockdown. A plan should be designed to lift the lockdown gradually, the panel said in a statement on Monday.
Present rules to remain in force
On Monday afternoon, while talking to this newspaper, Press Information Department (PID) Principal Information Officer Surath Kumar Sarker said the ongoing rules on restrictions on movement were supposed to remain in force during the fresh lockdown.
The second phase of lockdown, which started on April 14, is scheduled to end at 12 midnight on April 21. The next 7-day lockdown is supposed to start again from 6am on April 22.
The committee expressed satisfaction over the second phase of lockdown that was strictly implemented compared to the lax lockdown in the first week.
However, scientifically effective results cannot be expected in less than two weeks of lockdown, it said.
The committee understood the need to keep industries open in the interest of keeping the country's economy afloat.
However, since private offices and banks remain open, there has been an increase in traffic, mainly due to private cars. There are unwanted and unnecessary crowds at Iftar markets, making the success of the lockdown uncertain.
The NTAC has advised keeping everything closed except for healthcare facilities, fire service and other emergency services.
Restrictions from earlier notification to follow suit
All kinds of public transports – roads, riverways, railways, and air – are scheduled to remain suspended during the lockdown.
However, offices related to air, maritime, and river and land ports are to remain out of the purview of the lockdown.
Restrictions are not imposed on the carrying of goods, emergency services and production.
Offices, staff and vehicles of organizations providing emergency services, including law enforcement, agricultural products (fertilizer, seeds, pesticides, and machineries), crops, food-laden vehicles, relief distribution, health services, health workers involved in mass vaccination, power, water, gas, fire services, port activities, media (print and electronic), private security management, telephone, and postal services are expected to remain out of the purview of the restrictions.
Industries and factories
Industries and factories are set to remain open on condition that they maintain health protocols.
The respective factories or industries must take measures to ferry their employees in their own vehicles.
Public movement will be restricted, just as it is in the current lockdown, and no one will be allowed to go out except for certain emergency needs – such as to purchase medicines, daily essentials, avail medical services, take Covid-19 jabs, and burial or cremation of dead bodies.
Hotels and restaurants will be allowed to operate from 12 noon to 7pm and 12 midnight to 6am on takeaway/online services only.
Markets and shops
All shopping malls and markets are to remain closed during this period.
Daily essential items, notably kitchen items, can be sold and purchased from open spaces between 9am and 3pm.
Local administrations and the authorities concerned are to ensure that health guidelines are maintained when such activities are undertaken.
Boro paddy harvest
The local administrations concerned are supposed to take steps in a coordinated way for ferrying agricultural workers for Boro paddy harvest.
District and field administrations will take necessary measures to enforce the directives in a coordinated fashion.
The law enforcement agencies are set to strengthen patrol and take legal action against those who violate the directives.
The director general of the Directorate General of Health Services is supposed to take necessary steps to engage the law enforcement agencies and local administrations on his behalf.