- General holidays extended till May 16
- Shops to reopen, on a limited scale, from 10am to 5pm
- No one may leave workplace during the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays
- Inter-district travel will be strictly controlled
- Inter-district transportation will be suspended during Eid
- All ministries and divisions will open offices in their jurisdictions if needed
The government has extended the ongoing general holidays till May 16 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.
A few new directives have been added, including that shops reopen on a limited scale so that buying and selling can be done ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
The Ministry of Public Administration, on Monday, issued a gazette notification on extending the general holidays. Earlier, the cabinet division sent directives to the ministry regarding the general holidays.
The gazette notification said, "With the previously-announced holidays from April 26 to May 5, the holiday will continue from May 7 till May 14 – the holiday for Buddha Purnima on May 6 as well as weekly holidays of May 8, 9, 15 and 16 will be added to it."
This is the sixth time the general holidays have been extended to contain the spread of novel coronavirus in the country.
The government has also decided to extend the restriction on movement of public transport till May 16 in line with the general holiday extension.
The government has allowed shops to reopen on a limited scale on the occasion of the upcoming Eid. In this regard, health directives given by the government to maintain social distancing must be strictly followed.
The shopping centres or malls must have arrangements for handwashing and the availability of hand sanitiser during trading hours. The vehicles entering shopping malls must be disinfected and all shops must close by 5pm, the directives of the cabinet division said.
During the shutdown, travel from one district to another, or one upazila to another will be strictly controlled. The public must stay inside to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. No may come out between 8pm and 6am unless it is absolutely necessary.
According to the government directives, personnel associated with agricultural goods, fertiliser, pesticides, food, industrial goods, material for government projects, kitchen markets, food, medicine shops, hospitals, and emergency services will be excluded from the purview of the restrictions.
It also said medicine, production and export-oriented industries can open their factories upon ensuring workers' safety and health. After assessing the situation, the sectors associated with industry, agriculture, production and supply will be gradually opened.
All academic institutions must be closed during the general holidays. The Bangladesh Bank will issue directives on the banking system for easier business during Ramadan. All ministries and divisions will open the offices in their jurisdictions if needed, and issue directives.
The gazette notification strictly said no one can leave their workplace during the Eid holidays. All inter-district transportation will be suspended during that time.
Prior to the gazette notification, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a video conference with government officials and public representatives of Rangpur division, said the government had directed markets and shops to open so that the people do not face any problems to have iftar and sehri, and can buy goods as Eid-ul-Fitr is ahead.
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.
In the fifth phase, the government allowed factories to reopen with a limited number of workers – provided the factories ensured health, safety, accommodation and transport facilities for its workers. A large number of garment 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.
Mohammad Helal Uddin, president of Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity, an association of shop owners, told The Business Standard that they have decided to reopen shops as early as possible ensuring health security for all.
"We instructed all our members to ensure handwash and sanitiser and make arrangements for social distancing. Those who will be able to ensure it can reopen shops from May 6. If it takes time, they have to take the time," he said.
The business leader urged people not to go to shops that fail to arrange social distancing and maintain health guidelines.