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Buses, autos to ply; Covid containment zones divided into 3, says Mamata

Buses, autos to ply; Covid containment zones divided into 3, says Mamata

Kolkata: The Bengal government on Monday extended lockdown in the state till May 31 and chalked out a slew of relaxations to ensure sustenance of both life and livelihood.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, while announcing Bengal's lockdown 4.0 guidelines, said: "Booth-wise demarcation of containment zones into three parts have been done for better implementation of lockdown wherever necessary and allow initiation of economic activities at suitable areas. Part A is the Affected zone where there will be strong lockdown while selected economic activities will be allowed at Part B that has been named as Buffer Zone and almost all activities will be allowed at Part C that is the Clean zone."

Refusing to call it "night curfew" as directed by the Centre considering that such move is taken only during a riot or emergency, she said: "People are already under stress and I don't want to increase their sufferings by imposing the word curfew on them. But lockdown will be imposed and I would urge people not to come out of their houses from 7 pm to 7 am." She maintained that police will take strict action if anyone is found violating the lockdown norms.

This comes when 148 people have tested positive to COVID-19 while the disease claimed six more lives and a record number of 7,614 tests were undertaken in the past 24 hours.

The Chief Minister further announced that major shops will open from May 21 except for those in the 'Affected' zones while hawkers' markets are also set to open from May 27 on an odd-even basis. They will be provided with passes containing respective figures based on which odd and even number holders will set up their shops on alternate days. A committee comprising the state Home Secretary, Municipality Secretaries, Commissioner of Police, Director General of Police and Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) will prepare a plan of action in this regard following a meeting with market committees. Precautionary measures, including sanitisation of markets, use of masks and hand gloves have to be maintained.

Giving further relaxations, the Mamata Banerjee government has allowed functioning of offices and industry with 50 per cent of the total strength. Offices in shopping malls can also function. The state government has also given relaxations to the functioning of beauty parlours and salons situated outside the 'Affected' zones and by ensuring sanitisation of all equipment after single use. Hotels will also be allowed to open following precautionary measures while the restriction on the function of restaurants will continue.

Taking a major decision, the Chief Minister has allowed inter-state bus services from May 21. Auto-rickshaws with two passengers can ply from May 27. Banerjee has also announced a relaxation on organising sporting activities but without any gathering.

The Chief Minister has also announced that the state government will run another 120 trains in the next few weeks to bring back migrant labourers to Bengal. A total of 225 trains will run including the 105 that she had announced earlier.

In connection with the issue of nurses in private hospitals being called back by their respective states, Banerjee directed Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha to talk to the authorities of such health establishments so that local youths and women can be engaged to work as supporting staff by providing them with a week-long training to meet the shortage for the time being.

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