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Covid cases surge: Lockdown-like restrictions imposed in Bengal till May 30

Announcing this, Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said the curbs would be in place from 6 am on Sunday, May 16, to 6 pm on May 30.

People queue up near a liquor store in Kolkata on Saturday. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

Amid a spike in the number of Covid cases, the West Bengal Government on Saturday announced that the state would go into a near-lockdown situation for a fortnight, starting Sunday. Announcing this, Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said the curbs would be in place from 6 am on Sunday, May 16, to 6 pm on May 30.

Bandyopadhyay told mediapersons, “To ensure security of health condition of the people of the state and to control the Covid situation in the state, we are forced to impose this. Now, in the state, an unprecedented situation is prevailing and scarcity of oxygen and other medicines is increasing. To control this situation, we are imposing strict conditions on movement of transport and other sectors for two weeks.”

The state government also issued an order after the press meet, saying, “The state government considers that in the interest of healthcare and safety of the general public, additional restriction measures to cut down mobility of people and limiting human contact through assembly and congregation is essential to cut the transmission chain of virus and to contain the pandemic.”

According to the order, all schools, colleges, universities, anganwadi centres and other educational and academic institutions shall remain closed. All government offices and private establishments shall also remain closed except those relating to emergency and essential services such as healthcare, veterinary services, law and order, courts, social welfare homes, correctional services, power, drinking water supply, telecom, Internet, print and electronic medis, fire services, disaster management and civil defence, sanitation, sewerage and funeral services. Parks, zoos, sanctuaries shall remain closed except for maintenance services.

Bandyopadhyay also announced that after 9 pm, night curfew will be imposed. The order said, “All outdoor activities including movement of people and vehicles shall be further strictly prohibited between 9 pm and 5 am except for health services, law and order, essential commodities including agricultural produce and other emergency services.”

Shopping complexes, malls, market complexes, spas, beauty parlours, cinema halls, retaurants, bars, sports complexes, gyms, swimming pools shall also remain closed.

However, retail shops and supplies, bazaar and haats relating to vegetables, fruits, groceries, milk, bread, meat and eggs shall be allowed to remain open between 7 am and 10 am only. Sweetmeat shops shall be allowed to remain open between 10am to 5 pm only. Jewellery and saree shops may remain open between noon and 3 pm only. Medicine shops and optical stores shall remain open as per usual working hours.

All intra-state local trains, metro railway and intra-state bus services and inland water transport shall remain closed except for movement of emergency and essential services personnel.

According to the order, movement of private vehicles, taxis and auto-rickshaws will be prohibited except to and from hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic centres, clinics, vaccination centres, airports, terminal points, media houses etc, those movements relating to essential or exempted goods and services will also be exempted.

All intra-state movement of trucks and goods carriers shall be closed except relating to medical supplies, oxygen, essential food commodities including milk, eggs, meat, fish, petrol or diesel and LPG.

Bandyopadhyay said, “All administrative, academic, entertainment, political, cultural and religious gatherings, groupings and congregations shall be prohibited strictly. Because, these gatherings was causing spread of infections.”

All industries and manufacturing units shall remain closed except those relating to medical supplies, Covid protective supplies, health and hygiene care products, oxygen and oxygen cylinders, continuous process industries and production and packaging of essential food commodities and beverages including milk, poultry, fish and meat. However, operation of tea garden and Jute mills shall be allowed with 50% and 30% of total strength respectively in each shift.

E-commerce or home delivery, petrol pumps, auto repair shops, LPG gas offices and distribution centres, print, electronic media and social media, MSOs and cable operators, SEBI regulated and notified market entities shall remain open. Banks and financial institutions shall remain open for restricted hours between 10 am and 2 pm.

Marriage functions and funeral rituals will be allowed with not more than 50 and 20 persons in attendance at a time, following physical distancing norms.

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