A CNG run auto-rickshaw driver passes his idle time reading newspaper while the services of public transport remain suspended for weeks to curb the surge of Covid-19 infections. The picture was taken from Kadamtali bus terminal in Sylhet on 27 April.
A CNG run auto-rickshaw driver passes his idle time reading newspaper while the services of public transport remain suspended for weeks to curb the surge of Covid-19 infections. The picture was taken from Kadamtali bus terminal in Sylhet on 27 April. Anis Mahmud

At a review meeting regarding a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the government plans to keep inter-district public transport halted during Eid-ul-Fitr. Proposals will be sent to garment factory owners so that workers are not given holidays during Eid.

Besides, according to the plan, the markets and shopping malls might be closed too if health rules were widely flouted. The government has been thinking of imposing stern action along with fines to ensure health rules.

The proposal came from the mayor, secretary and head of the intelligence agency who attended the meeting to review the ongoing lockdown situation and to determine the future course of action to curb the spread of coronavirus. The meeting was headed by the health minister Zahid Maleque.

The ongoing lockdown announced by the government will end on 5 May. The meeting was held Sunday to decide the government’s next steps.

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According to police sources, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Benazir Ahmed told the meeting that everything must be stopped if transport is to be stopped. He suggested taking any new decision after Eid. The IGP said now is the time for businessmen, industrialists. Whether the government will be tougher now is a matter for consideration. He recommended taking strict measures for the next three weeks of Eid.

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said that inter-district buses should not enter Dhaka but should stay at the terminal outside Dhaka. He also stressed the need for closure of inter-district launches and railway.

He said, the most crowded places are Sadarghat, Kamalapur and Sayedabad and it would be wiser to sketch the lockdown map keeping these places in mind.

Atiqul Islam, mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation, said there were public gatherings at the airport railway station, Mohakhali and Gabtali bus stands in his area. He also highlighted the dire condition of the shops. He said that all the markets in Gulshan are in a terrible condition as no hygiene rules are followed. He said he would be able to deal with the situation by coordinating 72 councilors and police in his area.

Gazipur City Corporation mayor Jahangir Alam said around 2.4 million workers work in Gazipur City. They travel by bus and truck 24 hours a day, two or three days before Eid. As a result, the corona situation could take a terrible turn. Arrangements should be made so that they do not travel during Eid holidays. Law enforcement should take the matter seriously.

Asked about the meeting, Narayanganj City Corporation mayor Selina Hayat Ivy told Prothom Alo, "I said I am scared at the situation in Narayanganj. Large numbers of people live in Narayanganj city. It will be difficult to handle the situation without strict measures."

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She said, “It seems that all the people in this city are on the streets and in the shops.”

The mayors of Chittagong, Khulna and Mymensingh who were present at the meeting said it seemed there was no lockdown in the country from the crowds in the shopping centres and the kitchen markets.

They also said that the situation may turn out as in India.

On the overall issue, the health minister said, "Shopping centres are the main breeding grounds of the country’s spread of coronavirus. If people do not comply with health rules, we must close the shops. Apart from this, inter-district movement, inter-city travelling must be closed. Public transport must be controlled. If necessary, the transport sector will have to be compensated. Social or political events will be closed. We have to stay where we are this Eid.”

Transport secretary, Nazrul Islam told Prothom Alo, "It has been proposed to stop inter-district public transport during Eid. However, in this case, we have proposed stimulus for transport workers.”

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