Ahead of the lifting of the fourth phase of lockdown on May 31, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday announced easing of curbs starting June 1, allowing places of worship to open with maximum ten persons present at a time, and prohibiting any major gathering or celebration of festivals.
All offices in private and public sector will also be allowed to operate with a 100 per cent strength from June 8, the Chief Minister said, adding that social distancing has to be followed in all cases. She also said that schools in the state will remain closed as their buildings are being used as quarantine centres for migrant workers.
Addressing the press through video-conferencing, Mamata lauded the state government in “successfully controlling the transmission of COVID-19 in the last two months,” and blamed the fresh number of cases on “people coming from outside”.
She also said buses will be allowed to carry passengers to their full seating capacity from June 8 but no one will be allowed to stand.
Taking on the Centre over the Shramik special trains transporting stranded migrant workers to their native places, the Chief Minister said the Railways was “running ‘corona express’ trains in the name of Shramik Special trains”. She said the Railways was not implementing social distancing norms while ferrying the migrants. “I was also a Rail Minister, so don’t teach me. You can increase the number of coaches.”
The state government has been at loggerheads with the Centre, with Mamata accusing the Railways of sending trains to the state supposedly without keeping her in the loop.
On Thursday, the Chief Minister alleged that the Railways on its own was sending 36 Shramik trains from Maharashtra, and her government had not been informed about it.
Urging the Prime Minister to intervene, she said, “They (Railways) are acting according to their whims and fancies. I appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to look seriously into the situation to stop spread of the infection. I request the PM and the Union Home Minister to look into the matter and intervene.”
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