Bangladesh govt extends general holiday till May 30

No movement of public transports, domestic flights  

Mustafizur Rahman  | Published: 14:57, May 14,2020 | Updated: 23:58, May 14,2020


Busy Motijheel area in Dhaka remains empty during the general holidays. -- New Age photo

The government on Thursday extended further the ongoing general holiday till May 30 from May 17 under certain restrictions amid the rising COVID-19 deaths and infections over the past couple of weeks.

The public administration ministry issued a gazette notification to the effect, saying no one shall leave work stations during the holiday that includes the three-day Eid-ul-Fitr public holiday from May 24.

The people in general and authorities will have to strictly maintain the guideline issued by the Health Services Division, said the order signed by the ministry’s deputy secretary Kazi Mohammad Saiful Islam.

After the government has eased the ongoing restrictions for reopening shops and markets, resuming productions at factories and plying public transports in city roads on limited scales, the guideline on maintaining social distancing and cleanliness are hardly followed.

Crowds on roads are increasing daily in absence of effective steps to enforce the restrictions, increasing risks of transmissions.

In most cases the authorities have apparently left the enforcement of restrictions to individuals’ responsibility. 

Health minister Zahid Maleque on Thursday said that COVID-19 infections increased as the government was allowing factories and businesses to reopen on a limited scale considering the livelihood of the people.

‘People are gathering unnecessarily. The reopening of the business entities have become a reason for the rise in the number of infected people and the number will increase more a little bit,’ the minister told a programme in the city.

In another circular, the Cabinet Division said on the day that the movement of people from one district to another and one upazila to another would be strictly restricted.

It said that big congregations on the Eid-ul-Fitr in open spaces must be avoided.

The road transport movement, excluding those engaged in emergency services and carrying goods, will have to be strictly restricted during the time, it said.

The circular said that people must stay at home to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and no one would be allowed to go out at night from 8:00pm to 6:00am without emergency, the circular added.

The provision is already in force, but widely violated.

The movement of public transports on the roads, train and launch services and domestic flights would remain suspended, said the circular signed by deputy secretary Mohammad Abdul Wadud Chowdhury.    

The latest is the sixth extension, in a row, of the general holiday that began on March 26 to enforce the stay-at-home order and ensure social distancing to arrest the spread of the virus that claimed 283 lives and infected 18,863 people in the country so far since its detection on March 8 in Narayanganj.

The novel coronavirus has meanwhile spread to all the districts during the shutdown.

In an order on April 23, the public administration ministry extended the general holiday till May 5, but allowed the industries, including pharmaceutical and export-oriented factories, to reopen on the condition that the owners would ensure the health safety of the workers following the BGMEA guidelines.

The factories, agricultural sector and all those linked to production and the supply chain would be reopened gradually considering the situation, said the public administration ministry’s order.

Transports carrying goods were kept outside the ban since the shutdown began on March 26.

As before, emergency services, including health, sanitation, electricity, water, gas and other fuels, fire service, mass media, telephone and internet, postal service and the land, river and sea ports would remain outside the purview of the general holiday, said the order. 

Besides, all trucks, lorries, cargo vessels engaged in goods transport, workers engaged in dealing with agricultural produces, fertilisers, pesticides, food, industrial products, goods of state’s projects, kitchen markets, food, pharmacies, hospitals and emergency services would also remain out of the purview of the holiday, the order said.

The order said that no educational institutions would be allowed to open during the holiday.

Doctors and medical staff, vehicles and personnel engaged in the pharmaceutical industries as well as medical equipment-carrying vehicles and people working in the print and electronic media would remain out of the purview of the shutdown, it said.

The Bangladesh Bank would provide necessary directions to keep the banks open considering Ramadan, Eid and the country’s trade and commerce during the holiday.

Vehicles working for emergency services, goods industries, agriculture, industries, fertiliser, pesticides, fisheries and livestock, milk and other essential products will be out the ban’s purview, it said. 

Asked about relaxing the shutdown and enforcement of restrictions, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan earlier said that all would have to maintain social distancing and follow the health guideline to protect them from coronavirus transmission.

‘People have some responsibility in this regard. They should apply their conscience during this crisis to determine to what extent these are open — in the coronavirus pandemic,’ the home minister told New Age.

He said that the government would review its decision if people didn’t follow the guideline.

The health ministry on Monday issued a 13-point instruction set for the offices under all the ministries.

It asked the public works ministry to make necessary number of disinfection tunnels and disinfect all the office rooms, premises and adjacent roads before the offices reopen. 

The ministry also advised setting up thermal scanners and keeping thermometers at the entrance of every ministry and department office to measure the temperature of their employees when they would enter the office.

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