Tourists have been thronging the sea beaches around the country, in Cox’s Bazar, Kuakata, Patenga and Parki, enjoying themselves with friends and family, celebrating New Year amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Although all educational institutions have remained closed for nearly 10 months because of Covid-19, the country’s tourist spots are open for all.
On Saturday, a total of 684 people tested positive for the Covid-19 and 23 died.
The number of holidaymakers is on a steady increase in popular tourist spots, defying social-distancing rules. They don't even wear masks while roaming around the beaches.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, more than 500 hotels, motels and cottages of Cox’s Bazar were closed from 19 March to 16 August.
Later, the government permitted these establishments to be opened from 17 August, but with only 50 per cent occupancy and maintaining social distancing.
But the owners of these establishments are not following the government guidelines. An estimated 500,000 visitors thronged the different tourist spots over the last four days to celebrate the New Year.
Civil surgeon of Cox's Bazar Mahbubur Rahman said "Now there is no lockdown in the country so we cannot prevent visitors from coming. However, we are trying to keep at least 50 per cent of the rooms vacant."
Nabab Mia, a tourist from Cumilla, said he never imagined that there would be so many people on the beach. He has kept away from the beach for the last two days due to the crowds.
Superintendent of police (SP) of Cox’s Bazar Md Zillur Rahman said, "No one is allowed to go to the beach without a mask. The mobile court is fining people for not following the rules."
Other than Cox’s Bazar, a large number of visitors were seen at the Kuakata seashore in Patuakhali over the last few days, without masks and defying social distancing rules. Many tourists say they did not wear the mask by mistake.
Motaleb Sharif, general secretary of Kuakata Hotel-Motel Owners Association, said "Soaps and hand sanitisers have been placed at the entrance of the hotels for hand disinfecting. Everyone should be conscious of this issue."
Visitors at Patenga sea beach of Chattogram are also seen without masks.
Executive magistrate of the district administration Rajib Hossain told Prothom Alo that several magistrates are conducting drives every day to mobilise public awareness on health issues.