Coronavirus: Govt not extending general holidays

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Dhaka, May 27: The government will not extend the ongoing general holidays, aimed at curbing the transmission of coronavirus, beyond May 30, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told UNB on Wednesday.A gazette notification will be issued on Thursday in this regard, he said, adding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already signed it.

The government first announced the holidays on March 23, five days after Bangladesh reported its first coronavirus death.

State Minister Hossain said all public, private and autonomous offices can be opened in a limited scale from May 31 to June 15 but everyone has to follow the 13 health directives issued earlier.

Pregnant women, the elderly and the sick have been asked to refrain from attending offices during this period. “All ministries and offices will remain open but they will operate in a limited scale,” Hossain clarified.

Light and private vehicles can be used for commuting to offices during this period but public transport, train and vessels will not run.

“People won’t be allowed to travel from one district to another. Their movement will be strictly controlled in every district and check posts will be set up at the entry and exit points of the districts,” the state minister said.

Educational institutions will remain closed till June 15 but online classes will continue. Markets and shops will remain open from 10am to 4pm but they will have to follow health guidelines.

“The embargo on people’s movement from 8pm to morning will remain unchanged,” said Hossain.

He said the decision was taken to allow economic activities in a limited scale, adding that everyone will have to maintain health rules during this time.

Airlines can operate flights under their own management following health guidelines.

“No rallies or mass gatherings will be allowed … mosques and other places of worships will continue to run following previously issued guidelines,” he said.

Farhad Hossain clarified that the directives will remain in force until June 15. “A new gazette notification will be issued after this period,” he said.

What’s the coronavirus situation?

Bangladesh on Wednesday reported 1,541 new cases and 22 more deaths.

The number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 38,292 and deaths at 544, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.

The country reported its first cases on March 8 and the first death on March 18.

Despite a slew of measures taken by the government, the number of confirmed cases and deaths continues to rise.

On March 23, the government declared general holidays from March 26 to April 4 and later extended it several times to May 30.

Educational institutions, transports and all non-essential services were shut during the holidays, putting millions out of jobs.

The government announced a series of stimulus packages and eventually allowed businesses to operate in a limited scale.

In an address to the nation on Sunday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said economic activities have to be resumed for the sake of the people’s lives and livelihoods.

“Most countries have already been compelled to relax their lockdowns because it’s not possible to restrict people’s paths of income for an indefinite period. It’s not possible at all for a developing country like Bangladesh,” she said.

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