The government has extended the ongoing lockdown to 16 May to contain the alarming surge in Covid-19 infections as the second of the pandemic wave hit the country.
Movement of all kinds of long-haul public transports will remain suspended ahead of the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr. Launch and train services will also remain suspended during the period.
But, the government has also already allowed resuming movement of public transport inside cities and intra-districts from 6 May.
Experts expressed mixed concerns over the government decision.
They said if the government could suspend public transport totally, that would be excellent. But they praised the government decision of continuing the lockdown and suspending movement of long haul public transport till Eid.
Something is better than nothing, they said.
The decision was made at the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
After the cabinet meeting, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam briefed the media about the decisions taken in the meeting.
"The local administration will conduct massive monitoring drives in the markets and shopping malls in their respective areas to ensure implementation of hygiene rules and health guidelines," he said, adding that if there is any violation of health guidelines at any market or shopping mall, it will be closed down immediately if necessary.
Informing that strict action will be taken against him if anyone is found outside the house without wearing a mask, the cabinet secretary said police and magistrates will supervise each and every market across the country conducting continuous mobile court drives.
"If they find people roaming without masks in any market at higher numbers, that market will be shut down," he said, adding, "The Shop Owners Association has assured the government of cooperation with the administration in this regard. The shop owners will also supervise if the people are abiding by the health guidelines issued by the government."
Anwarul Islam said launch and train services will remain suspended till 16 May 16, that is until the end of Eid festival. There will be no extra holiday except the three days for the Holy Eid-ul-Fitr.
"No organisation will be allowed to give additional leave on its own initiative in addition to these three days. This decision will be applicable to all government and non-government organisations," he added.
The secretary said, "The government holidays are for three days; Thursday, Friday and Saturday. No private sector organisation or industry will be allowed to close days."
As a result of this decision of the government, the country's garment factories will also be closed for three days. Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of BGMEA, an association of garment owners, told The Business Standard, "The government has taken this initiative to contain the spread of infection. We have no problem with that. Health first, work later."
Regarding the plying of intra-district public transport, the cabinet secretary said the public transport sector will also have to follow the health guidelines.
Informing that if there is any violation, the administration will shut down that particular public transport, he said, "The owners of the public transport have also assured us about the following health guidelines."
However, Health Minister Zahid Malek, meanwhile, mentioned that the borders will remain closed until further notice.
Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said movement of the public buses would be limited within the district and would not be allowed to cross the district boundaries in any way.
"City transports cannot go outside the cities," the minister said.
He said any vehicle leaving Dhaka city would not be allowed to go outside the Dhaka district boundary. The transports must run on the newly adjusted fare, keeping half the seats vacant. Additional fares cannot be taken, and the use of masks and hand sanitizers must be made mandatory for transport workers and passengers. It is also mandatory to disinfect the car after every trip.
Professor Dr Mohammad Shahidullah, chairman of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 termed the government's decision as 'better than worse'. Suspension of long haul public transport may support the government's initiative to curb virus infection, he hoped.
Professor Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and member of the National Technical Advisory committee on covid-19, told TBS, "We welcome the decision of limited movement of public transport until the end of Eid festival. However, it would be better if the public transport could be fully shut down."
In Bangladesh, limited restrictions were in place from 5-11 April to tame the second wave of the pandemic.
Later, a one-week nationwide lockdown was enforced from 14 April, which was then extended until 28 April. It was further extended till 5 May.
The government, however, lifted some of the restrictions, including on shops and shopping malls.
Dhaka still sees traffic jam
The usual traffic jam returned to Dhaka on Monday on the 20th day of lockdown. The intensity of traffic jams has been increasing since Sunday. The number of private cars was relatively more on the Dhaka roads. There was an abundance of rented motorcycles, CNG-autorickshaws, and pickup vans carrying goods.
Apart from that, many people are going out for Eid shopping. In this case, people are going out to shop for children.