The government may extend the ongoing general holiday up to the end of May with some additional instructions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country. According to sources, the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays may be included in it.
The Ministry of Public Administration has already made a proposal for the holiday extension and sent it to the prime minister, sources said.
However, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain said that no decision has been taken yet on the issue.
"Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will decide regarding the holiday and its probable extension. She will take the Eid holidays into consideration while deciding," he said.
"We have not received any direction as yet, but a decision regarding the holiday prolongation and accompanying terms may be known by Thursday," he added.
According to the ministry officials, the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 has already made a recommendation to Health Minister Zahid Maleque to extend the public holiday as both the novel coronavirus cases and deaths keep rising.
The government is considering the suggestion and analysing different scenarios.
Officials also said that there are only four working days – May 17 to 20 – before the Eid holidays. Problems may arise if offices resume for these four days and public transportation is reopened for that reason.
According to the government holiday calendar, the Shab-e-Qadr holiday falls on May 21 while May 22 and 23 are weekly holidays and May 24 to 26 are Eid holidays.
An announcement may be made adding these days to Eid holidays, sources said.
Sources further said the government is considering two options over the general holidays: one is from May 17 to 26, and the other is till the last day of the month.
Specialists engaged with ministries said the technical committee and virologists predicted that the last two weeks of May could be dangerous for Bangladesh. That is why a large number of influential government officials suggested a holiday extension till May 31.
On March 23, the government initially declared a 10-day general holiday from March 26 to April 4, to protect people against the highly-contagious virus.
Later, it was extended till April 11 and further to April 14. Then again, it was prolonged to April 25 in the fourth phase, to May 5 in the fifth phase and finally from May 7 to May 16 in the sixth phase.
In the fifth phase, the government allowed factories to resume operations with a limited number of workers after ensuring their: health, safety, accommodation, and transportation facilities. A large number of apparel factories reopened during that period.
All ministries, divisions and their subordinate offices were involved in providing emergency services on a limited scale during the fifth phase as well.
In the sixth phase, the government allowed shops to reopen on a small scale on the occasion of the upcoming Eid. However, it limited travelling from one district to another or one upazila to another. Human movement from 8pm to 6am was also restricted unless it was absolutely necessary.
The government further announced that no one may leave their workplaces during the Eid holidays. All forms of inter-district transportation will be shut during that time.
The upcoming holiday gazette notification may also include all these restrictions.
With the detection of 969 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, till Tuesday 8am, the total number of such cases in Bangladesh stood at 16,660, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.
Additionally, 11 more people died of the deadly virus during the period, taking the death toll in the country to 250.
The global death tally from the novel coronavirus pandemic surpassed 287,000 as of Tuesday.