Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed authorities concerned to fully lock down the cluster areas affected by the coronavirus.
The directive came at the cabinet meeting presided over by the prime minister yesterday.
Till now, four clusters of coronavirus infections have been identified by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) with higher cases: Dhaka (64), Narayanganj (23), Madaripur (11) and Gaibandha (5).
Authorities were tough yesterday to enforce the lockdown in clusters and restrict movements in the capital city, also limiting entry to and exit from Dhaka.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police ordered all shops, superstores and kitchen markets in Dhaka to close by 6pm every day.
In the capital's Farmgate area, mobile court of Rapid Action Battalion yesterday fined 25 people for wandering.
Similar step has been taken in Chattogram, with police restricting movement of people and transports to and from the port city.
According to the meeting sources, the prime minister said the second week of April may be a more vulnerable phase for the coronavirus infection. So, she directed the administration and law enforcing agencies to strictly implement the government directives about social distancing.
Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said, since the coronavirus situation worsened to some extent, it would not be possible to control the situation in any way without the people's wholehearted cooperation.
"So, the cabinet has repeatedly urged the people to follow social distancing and quarantine rules. Or else, it will in no way be possible to control it," he added.
The cabinet secretary said this while briefing media in the afternoon yesterday at the Secretariat.
He said law enforcing agencies and the administration have been directed to take measures for a stricter implementation of the directives to ensure social distancing.
They have also been asked to conduct massive campaigns in rural areas simultaneously, he added.
Sources said the ministers expressed concerns as garment industries decided on their own to keep their factories open without coordinating with the government.
On Saturday, thousands of garment workers treaded hundreds of miles towards the capital from different parts of the country to join their work, which created a risky situation of spreading coronavirus.
The cabinet secretary said an integrated action plan would be prepared in this regard following a meeting with the prime minister's principal secretary. The meeting was held at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday afternoon.
Sources said the prime minister approved a proposal of releasing some prisoners based on some criteria.
Those who were convicted of minor offences or those who were sentenced to long-term jail but served most of the term can be set free.
However, prisoners who are convicted or are currently facing trials in cases like murder and rape will not be released.
Dhaka shops to be closed by 6pm every day
Meanwhile, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has issued an order to close all shops, super shops and kitchen markets in the capital by 6pm daily in a move to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
"The order will remain effective until any further notice," said Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (media) of DMP.
But emergency services will remain out of the purview of the restriction. The DMP has also imposed ban on entry to and exit from the capital.
Devotees asked to pray at home
The Ministry of Religious Affairs yesterday instructed people to refrain from praying at mosques.
Managing committees of all religious establishments across Bangladesh have been requested to cooperate in implementing the instruction.
The ministry also warned that legal actions will be taken if any managing committee does not comply with the order.
All devotees will perform prayers at home except the khatib, imam, muezzin and mosque caretaker, the ministry instructed, adding that all devotees should perform the Zuhr prayer at home instead of the weekly Jummah prayer on Fridays.
A congregation of maximum five people – including khatibs, imams, muezzins and mosque caretakers – will be allowed to attend prayers five times a day. A maximum of 10 devotees are permitted to perform the Jummah prayer at mosques.
People of other religions have also been asked not to gather at their religious establishments. They too will have to perform prayers at home.
No religious gatherings will be allowed anywhere in the country during the virus outbreak, the ministry further said.
The ministry assured that the instructions have been issued in line with the fundamentals of all religions and this has been done in the interest of the national safety and security.
25 people fined for wandering unnecessarily in Dhaka
A mobile court yesterday fined 25 people with a total of Tk89,500 for wandering unnecessarily in the capital's Farmgate area on Monday.
Rapid Action Battalion's Executive Magistrate Sarwar Alam, who led the drive, told The Business Standard.
Sarwar Alam said the persons were fined and many were warned for violating the government instruction to stay at home to curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
The drive will be continued across the capital to ensure people's staying at home, he added.