With the markets and shopping malls reopening on Friday, Bangladesh's weeklong stay-at-home order is poised to peter out amid a resurgence in Covid-19 cases and fatalities.
As the blanket lockdown seems to have collapsed in the face of protests by people over livelihood, economists and health experts advocate for area-wise targeted lockdown to dial up efforts to flatten the infection curve.
Permitting markets and shopping malls to open from Friday on a limited scale, the government reshaped its lockdown curbs Thursday. Businessmen had been protesting the business suspension order since Monday – the first day of the countrywide lockdown.
Earlier on Wednesday, the authorities had also resumed public transport services in the cities from 6am to 6pm to ease office-goers' suffering.
As the lockdown restrictions on public movements and gathering fade away even before the weeklong stay-at-home completion, experts hold the government responsible for the "unplanned measures" to curb the virus spread.
Dr Mohammad Sorowar, a public health expert and executive director of the Biomedical Research Foundation Bangladesh, said, "Considering the current situation, Bangladesh should work on imposing smart lockdowns where the infection is surging."
He believes an unplanned lockdown in a developing country like Bangladesh with inadequate healthcare access may not work out.
"Lockdown is enforced to reduce the mounting pressure on the existing healthcare system. But Bangladesh was not able to develop sufficient healthcare infrastructure in the first place to deal with Covid-19 patients in the last one year," Dr Sorowar noted.
Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute, said the government's efforts to isolate Dhaka – which contributes to half of the virus cases – from other districts is important.
But like Dr Sorowar, he believes there should have been area-specific lockdowns where the infection rate is high.
He said Bangladesh has a strategic failure in maintaining quality vaccination which is very important to slow down the infection rate.
"We could not manage sufficient vaccination arrangements as per the needs of the people," Ahsan H Mansur added.
The 18-point lockdown rules aimed at restricting people's movement and gatherings by imposing a ban on all sorts of public transports to contain the surge in Covid-19.
However, car services of different ridesharing companies such as Uber and Pathao have already resumed operations with the public transport resumption Wednesday.
Now the companies want the ban on motorbike ride-sharing to be lifted as Pathao submitted a letter to the Cabinet Division Thursday in this regard.
Pathao President Fahim Ahmed said the government should consider lifting the ban as motorcycle ride-sharing is instrumental to providing income opportunities for many whose livelihood is at the greatest risk during this time.
Currently, the inter-district bus services, domestic flights and train services are suspended in line with the 18-point lockdown rules.
Besides, citizens are restricted to go out from 6pm to 6am except emergencies such as buying medicines, going to the hospital or buying essential items.
On top of this, around 60,000 restaurants across the country are allowed to only take-away services or home deliveries.
Restaurant owners said they want to resume their full operations.
In a press release, the Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association said restaurant staff will form human chains at all press clubs in the country on Saturday with the full-fledged operations demand.
The lockdown allows all public, semi-government, autonomous offices, courts and private offices to remain open on a limited scale.
The 18-point directives said factories and industries will remain open after ensuring workers' safety and health guidelines.