Shopping malls in Dhaka are giving off a deserted look, with people leaving the capital in droves amid the coronavirus scare.
New Market, the busiest marketplace in the city, had only a few security guards on Wednesday.
There were some public transports on the street in front of it, but one could rarely see any person in the market.
Rafiqul Islam, one of the security guards, told The Business Standard that New Market and all the markets around it had been closed since Tuesday, which is the weekly holiday for these markets.
"We are only guarding the gates from outside. The shop owners have given us gloves and masks so that we can carry out our duty," said Rafiqul.
The coronavirus has so far infected 39 people and killed five in Bangladesh. To prevent the spread of the deadly virus, the authority has shut down shops and markets, except pharmacies and stores selling perishable goods, from March 25 to 31.
Khairul Bashar Shipon, president of the Dhaka New Market Shop Owners Association, told The Business Standard, "Less people have been visiting the market due to a panic over the coronavirus. Our sales dropped by 20 percent last week."
"People have not been leaving their homes after the government announced holidays. Besides, we have to consider our employees' safety," said Khairul.
Saying that the proprietors sent the workers on holidays after paying them advance salaries, Khairul added, "The businessmen cannot manage their own expenditures when the shops are not open. However, they were asked to look after their employees during the crisis."
Shopping malls near New Market, such as Gausia, Priyangon Shopping Centre, Chandni Chowk, Eastern Mollika, Eastern Plaza, Motaleb Plaza, Rapa Plaza, Orchard Point, Plaza AR and Simanta Square in Dhanmondi, were also closed on Wednesday.
Visiting these areas, this correspondent found only a few shops of essential goods and fast food items open. But there were some people at the ATM booths and bKash agent outlets.
Besides, Bashundhara City, one of the largest shopping malls in Bangladesh, also remained closed on Wednesday. The food court and the Cineplex on the market's eighth floor always remain open even when the market is closed during the weekly holiday or Eid, but this time they were not allowed to operate.
Habibur Rahman, general manager of the Bashundhara Group, said, "The shopping mall was closed as per the government's decision. We considered the safety of the people and businessmen. The market will be open after April 4 if the situation improves."
Large shopping malls like Polwel Super Market, China Super Market, Karnaphuli Garden City Shopping Complex, and Police Plaza were also locked from outside on Wednesday.
Shopping malls in Moghbazar, Shantinagar, Malibagh, Naya Paltan, Gulshan, Banani, Uttara, Mohammadpur, and Mirpur areas were closed too.
However, some general stores in these areas and shops near bus stops were open.