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State imposes stricter curbs to check Covid spread for 15 days

State imposes stricter curbs to check Covid spread for 15 days
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KOLKATA: The Bengal government on Saturday imposed some additional restrictions "with a stricter containment approach" for a fortnight from Sunday 6 am to contain the spread of COVID-19 and break the chain of transmission, including suspension of all intra-state transport services and banning all kinds of gatherings.

Besides imposing a 'night curfew' from 9 pm to 5 am, the state government has also announced that all offices and educational institutions will remain closed from Sunday 6 am to 6 pm on May 30.

The state government had imposed partial lockdown after the Assembly elections. Now, with the additional curbs being imposed, all intra-state transport services, including inland water transport, local trains and Kolkata Metro, will remain suspended. Restrictions have also been imposed on all administrative, academic, entertainment, political, cultural and religious gatherings.

"The move has been taken considering its need for the well-being of people at this time of Covid. It has been done so that the rate of infection goes down," Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said while announcing the set of restrictions at Nabanna on Saturday.

The curbs were imposed at a time when the number of Covid cases in Bangal had shot up to 19,511 and about 144 people died due to the pandemic on Saturday.

In such a situation, the Madhyamik and Higher Secondary examinations would not be held in June as scheduled earlier. The revised dates of the examinations will be announced later.

Retail shops and vegetable markets will remain open only for three hours in a day from 7 am to 10 am. Earlier since April 30, retail shops and vegetable markets used to operate twice a day for five hours after the Bengal government had imposed a set of restrictions amid the second wave for the first time. Similarly, liquor shops, which used to stay open for three hours (7 am to 10 am) a day since April 30, would remain completely closed from Sunday till a further decision is taken in this connection.

Sweetmeat shops will remain open from 10 am to 5 pm while jewellery and garment shops will be allowed to operate from noon to 3 pm. But shopping complexes, malls, market complexes, spas, beauty parlours, cinema halls, restaurants, bars, sports complexes, gyms and swimming polls will continue to remain closed.

However, e-commerce or home delivery of all commodities has been allowed to ensure that people do not face any problem in getting a supply of "all commodities" at their doorsteps.

Banks will remain open for four hours from 10 am to 2 pm on weekdays, as they had been operating for the past one week. Petrol pumps and LPG gas offices along with distribution centres will remain open as usual.

As per the state government's order, a maximum of 50 and 20 persons are allowed to attend marriage functions and funerals respectively by maintaining the norms of physical distancing. Parks, zoos and sanctuaries will also remain closed except for maintenance works.

Private vehicles, taxis and auto-rickshaws will be allowed to ply only in case their movement is related to essential services and if ferrying a passenger to and from hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic centres, clinics, vaccination centres, airports, terminal points and media houses.

Similarly, restrictions have been imposed on intra-state movement of trucks and goods carriers. At the same time, measures have been taken to ensure that movement of trucks do not get restricted in case the vehicles are transporting medical supplies, oxygen, petrol or diesel, LPG and essential food commodities including milk, poultry, fish and meat.

Though all industrial and manufacturing apart from those are related to supplies of medical items, Covid protective equipment and oxygen cylinders will remain closed, relaxations have been given to tea gardens and jute mills to operate with 50 per cent and 30 per cent of the total manpower respectively in each shift.

"The jute mills need to be run even with a skeleton force as it manufactures bags needed to pack medical equipment essential for Covid treatment," Bandyopadhyay said.

The emergency and essential services including healthcare, medicine shops, optical stores, veterinary services, law and order, courts, social welfare homes, correctional services, power, drinking water supply, telecom, internet, print and electronic media, cable operators, fire services, disaster management and civil defence, sanitation, SEBI regulated and notified market entities, sewerage and funeral services will remain out of the ambit of the restrictions.

Meanwhile, police personnel across the state-initiated miking at important intersections and markets to make people aware of the new set of restrictions and all arrangements were made to impose the restrictions with a humane approach.

Long queues were noticed outside liquor shops in certain parts of Kolkata flouting norms of physical distancing as the news spread that the outlets will remain closed from Sunday.

The administration took immediate steps to check violations of physical distancing norms at these outlets.

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