A number of news reports showed the crowds at ferry terminals. Although the authorities have been speaking of easing the lockdown in order to stave off economic collapse, the lockdown seems to have been entirely lifted.
The purpose of declaring a general holiday from 26 March and extending its term was supposed to keep people home. What is the point of relaxing the lockdown and lifting the ban on opening shops at the same time?
These two decisions are contradictory and the purpose of extending the holiday will fail this way. Government policymakers have made similar conflicting decisions in the past to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic, and the situation has deteriorated.
For example, with the announcement of general holiday from 26 March without closing public transport, thousands of people flocked to their homes in different districts of the country from Dhaka. Shortly afterwards, a number of COVID-19 cases was identified in different parts of the country.
With the extension of the holiday, the government has said that all public transport except vehicles used for transporting consumer goods will be closed for four days before and two days after Eid-ul-Fitr. No one is allowed to leave their current living places.
This is definitely a praiseworthy decision as the coronavirus is transmitted through people. The rate of infection is highest in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur and several other areas as infected people move in and out of these areas.
The authorities must not only announce a halt of public transport, but implement this stringently. In fact, not just the days before and after Eid, inter-area public transport should be shut down until the epidemic comes to an end.
People’s mobility should be stopped from one place to another till 30 May. This time is extremely risky. Both infections and deaths are on the rise. It is high time the authorities ensure social and physical distance.