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Battling Covid: Local trains suspended, restricted timings for markets, shops

KOLKATA: The Bengal government on Wednesday imposed a set of restrictions, including suspension of suburban train services from Thursday for the next 14 days to curb the spike in Covid cases in the state.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a high-level meeting with all senior officials of the state government within hours after taking oath for the third consecutive term. Besides taking a series of steps to provide better health service to Covid patients, Banerjee also announced a series of restrictions instead of going for complete lockdown.

"The movement of suburban train services will get suspended from Thursday. At the same time, road transport and Metro services will also be operating with 50 per cent capacity," Banerjee said adding that it is compulsory for people flying to the state to provide Covid negative certificate after undergoing RT-PCR tests within 72 hours of the journey.

"In case any passenger is found to have landed in Bengal without such a test report, he or she will be quarantined for 14 days at their own cost," reads the order issued by the state government in this connection.

Similarly, passengers entering the state by long-distance trains and inter-state buses will also have to furnish the same. Random checking will be arranged in this regard, inter alia, checking the authenticity of the test reports also.

The business hours of banks have been restricted to four hours from 10 am to 2 pm and all bank branches will remain closed on all Saturdays.

Industries, factories, mills, manufacturing units and tea gardens will remain operational but with 50 per cent manpower of the total strength in each shift.

To ensure smooth supply of essential items, "bazaars and haats including the standalone shops, will be allowed to open only during 7 am to 10 pm and 5 pm to 7 pm". However, there is a relaxation for jewellery shops as they can keep their outlets open from noon to 3 pm.

Medical shops, grocery shops, milk supply booths and sweetmeat shops and all centres and services relating to health, fire services, electricity, telecom and municipal services will remain out of the purview of the restrictions.

Online and home delivery services have been encouraged to ensure a smooth supply of essentials at the doorstep.

All shopping complexes, malls, beauty parlours, cinema halls, restaurants and bars, sports complexes, gyms, spas and swimming pools will remain completely closed till the further order is issued in this connection.

At the same time "no public gatherings, including social, political, academic, entertainment-related gatherings will be allowed. Assembly of only 50 persons, that too with prior permission from the concerned authorities, will be allowed only for cultural and religious programmes.

Again not more than 50 persons will be allowed for familial gatherings like marriage and not more than 20 people will be allowed in case of funerals.

"This time, the state government will organise the programme of Rabindra Jayanti virtually," Banerjee said. The state government and its parastatal officers will have 50 per cent attendance.

Banerjee has also urged private companies to encourage work-from-home as "in no case, physical attendance should be more than 50 per cent of the total strength in

each shift." Sanitisation of offices, workplaces and bazaars has

to be carried out at regular intervals.

She urged business houses to take up the bazaars for sanitisation. Stating that there are around 1 lakh CAPF personnel present in the state, she directed proper sanitisation of the places like school buildings and jute mills where they had stayed.

She also urged people to wear masks and follow the norms of physical distancing.

The state government has already spent Rs 45 crore to procure medicines and fight Covid. The state government requested contributions or donations that can be deposited in the name of "West Bengal State Emergency Relief Fund" (Bank: ICICI Bank Ltd.; Bank Branch: Howrah. Account No. 628005501339. IFSC: ICIC0006280. MICR Code: 700229010).

The contributions are entitled to 100 per cent deduction under section 80G of the Income Tax Act. One may also deposit money in the name of "West Bengal State Disaster Management Authority" (Bank: Punjab National Bank, Bank Branch: Old Court House Street. Account No. 0389200100000047. IFSC: PUNB0038920. MICR Code: 700024266) and the account is covered as expenditure under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR Registration No.CSR00004495).

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