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The number of private vehicles, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws marked a significant rise on the roads in the capital on Sunday as the government allowed shops and malls to open on a limited scale, reports news agency UNB.

The pressure of vehicles on the city streets was reported from areas like Mirpur, Gabtoli, Shyamoli, Uttara and Mohakhali amid the lockdown, which has been extended by another week until 28 April to deal with the worsening Covid-19 situation.

In a circular on Friday, the government allowed the shops and malls to remain open from 10:00am to 5:00pm from Sunday, prompting many people to return to Dhaka.

People were seen entering the capital on foot through Babu Bazar, Amin Bazar Bridge and Tongi Bridge areas.

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Although the movement of rickshaws on the main roads was relatively lower in the morning than the other days, those were found moving in backstreets.

However, no public transport and other city services were seen on the city streets.

The owners and workers of shops, markets and shopping malls were seen busy reopening their doors since 9:00am.

While talking to the news agency at Rajlaxmi in Uttara, traffic inspector Akhter Hossain said: “The pressure of vehicles is increasing. But such pressure was not there during the last few days since the enforcement of the strict lockdown on 14 April. This is happening following the government’s decision to allow shops and shopping malls to reopen.”

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However, the number of rickshaw was comparatively lower than the other days, he added.

Another traffic inspector, Asaduzzaman, said: “There has been huge traffic in Mohakhali area since morning and our colleagues were asking the public for movement pass at designated check posts.”

Strict lockdown in place since 14 April

A surge in coronavirus cases prompted the government to go for an eight-day complete lockdown from 14 April. The cabinet division issued a notification in this regard on 12 April.

Later, following the shattering situation of Covid-19 cases, the government extended the lockdown by another week from 22 April to bring the situation under control.

A circular was issued on 20 April extending the ongoing “strict restrictions” for another week from 22 April, aiming to curb the transmission of Covid-19.

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As coronavirus cases continued to rise alarmingly since mid-March, the government imposed a nationwide lockdown for one week from 5 April as part of its move to contain its spread. Later, a “strict restrictions” was declared from 14 to 21 April.

Reopening shops and shopping malls

On 23 April, the Cabinet Division issued a notice allowing shops and malls to operate from 25 April (10:00am-5:00pm) on the condition that they would maintain proper safety protocols.

The shops and malls are permitted to reopen from 25 April subject to maintaining proper safety protocols, says the notice signed by deputy secretary Md Rezaul Islam.

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Shops and malls were shut from 5 April with a spurt in covid cases and deaths.

But the shopkeepers and traders demonstrated demanding the reopening of businesses. They argued that they had suffered massive losses last year during the lockdown.

Eid-ul-Fitr is generally the busiest time for businesses but last year’s Eid was celebrated amid the covid outbreak. Businesses had suffered huge losses.

Public transport to resume

On Saturday, road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader said the government is working on a plan to allow the public transport to resume operations once the current lockdown is over.

On 31 May, the government raised the fares of all buses, including inter-district ones, by 60 per cent as the vehicles are allowed to carry only half passengers of the total seats to ensure social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 situation

Bangladesh recorded 83 more Covid-related deaths in 24 hours until Saturday morning, raising the total fatalities to 10,952.

Coronavirus fatalities crossed 10,000 on 15 April and the death tally came close to 11,000 within 10 days as the country finds it hard to deal with the pandemic.

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