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Bengal goes for 15-day blanket restrictions | Kolkata News

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KOLKATA: The Bengal government on Saturday announced severe restrictions on movement of people to dissuade them from stepping out of their homes in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19 infections that has overwhelmed the healthcare sector. The shutdown will be in place from 6am on Sunday, May 16, to 6pm on Sunday, May 30.
All offices, government and private, have been ordered shut while educational institutions will remain closed. Shops and markets will be open for only three hours in the morning between 7am and 10am but liquor shops will be completely shut during the 15 days. Other than flights and long-distance trains, virtually all other modes of transport — buses, local trains, Metro, private vehicles, cabs, autos and ferries — will be off. However, private cars, taxis and autos will be allowed to ferry patients to hospitals or passengers to stations and airports (see chart).
The last time Bengal had witnessed similar restrictions was during the nationwide lockdown between March and June 2020. Earlier this month, the state government imposed curbs on local commute, stopped local train services, shut down malls and market complexes and restricted office attendance to 50% on May 5 as cases started rising sharply.
Announcing the measures, chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said the curbs would be strictly enforced. “These additional restrictions are aimed at cutting down mobility of people and limiting human contacts by prohibiting assembly and congregation to snap the transmission chain of the virus,” Bandyopadhyay said, adding that only emergency services would be allowed. Those who violate the stricter lockdown will be prosecuted under Disaster Management Act, 2005 and West Bengal Epidemic, Diseases and Covid Regulations, 2020 as well as Indian Penal Code, he said.
Health experts welcomed the order and said this was necessary to bring down the active case count that was pushing the health infrastructure to the absolute brink. On Saturday, the active case count in Bengal stood at 1,31,948 with 19,511 new Covid cases. . The state also recorded the maximum Covid deaths on Saturday at 144.
Among the districts, North 24 Parganas was the worst off with 4,279 cases and 35 deaths, followed by Kolkata with 3,951 cases and 30 deaths. South 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Howrah and Nadia clocked over 1,000 cases.
Among the services that are exempt from curbs are fuel stations, banks and other financial institutions, medicine shops and optical stores as well as electricity, telecommunication and other essential services.
Jewellery and saree shops have been allowed to remain open between noon and 3pm while shops selling sweets will be allowed to operate between 10 am and 5pm.
Bandyopadhyay later announced the postponement of Madhyamik and Higher Secondary examinations that were scheduled in June.
All industrial and manufacturing units, except continuous process industries and those relating to emergency services, supplies of medical necessities, food commodities, beverages, will remain closed till 6 pm Sunday, May 30. The tea garden and jute mills, both of which are ailing, can operate with 50% and 30% workforces respectively.
Marriage and funeral will remain low-keyed affairs during the pandemic, with 50 guests for marriage and 20 persons to attend a funeral The veterinary and pet care services can continue as per their schedules.
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