The government may extend the ongoing general holidays till May 16 amid a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain confirmed to The Business Standard on Saturday.
"We decided to extend the general holidays. A proposal has already been sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for approval," he said.
When asked for how long the holiday will be extended, the state minister said that they sent the proposal for up to May 15. That means the holiday would effectively extend till May 16, which is a weekend.
"The public administration ministry will issue a gazette notification in this regard on Sunday or Monday after getting approval from the premier," Farhad added.
According to sources, new directives may be included in the gazette notifications. The health ministry convened an inter-ministerial meeting for Sunday in order to evaluate the current situation and demands for opening other industries and business entities.
Sources said different issues regarding the current Covid-19 situation will be discussed at the meeting. Recommendation regarding the current situation will be evaluated by the National Technical Advisory Committee, formed to tackle the outbreak of coronavirus in Bangladesh.
After the inter-ministerial meeting, a report will be forwarded to the prime minister and she will take a decision by evaluating those reports and recommendations. Then the gazette notifications for holidays will be issued by the Ministry of Public Administration.
This will be the sixth time the general holidays have been extended to contain the spread of novel coronavirus in the country.
Earlier on March 23, the government initially declared a 10-day shutdown, effective from March 26 to April 4. Later, it was extended till April 11 and then to April 14. It was then extended to April 25 in the fourth phase and later to May 5.
The government has discouraged movement after 6pm, instructing everyone to stay at home. Violation of this directive has, at times, resulted in legal action.
But in the fifth phase, the government allowed factories to reopen with limited number of workers, provided the factories ensured health, safety, accommodation and transport facilities. A large number of RMG factories opened during this period.
All ministries, divisions and their subordinate offices involved in providing emergency services opened on a limited scale during the fifth phase as well.