In the face of spiking Covid-19 infection, Bangladesh Monday half-heartedly passed the first day of the seven-day lockdown.
People went out in hordes and Dhaka streets were packed as usual, minus the public transportations. The working class had to bear the brunt as public buses did not run.
Although there were patrols of the local administration, police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel, the law enforcers apparently held out an olive branch to the people compared to last year's countrywide shutdown.
During the shutdown, police set up check-posts at key points of the capital and forced the Dhakaites to wear face masks and maintain social distancing. But there was no such check-point in the capital on Monday.
There was only a RAB mobile court in Dhaka's Shahbagh while several police stations of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police conducted awareness campaigns and distributed free face masks.
In media releases, the two Dhaka city corporations also said they conducted mobile courts.
Though all the markets, shopping malls and shops were supposed to remain closed as per the government order, shops in city neighbourhoods were wide open with no virus safety measure. Both the traders and customers apparently forgot to maintain the social distancing – a must to contain the virus spread.
Officers-in-charge of several police stations in the capital told The Business Standard that they made the lockdown announcement through microphone, and asked people to keep markets and shops closed.
Asked if the lockdown is being enforced half-heartedly compared to last year, some OCs on condition of anonymity said mobile courts could not be deployed due to executive magistrate shortage.
"By convincing people, I am doing as much as I can to make the lockdown effective," one of the police officers told TBS.
Newmarket Police Station OC SM Kaiyum said they were in the field Monday to make people comply with social distancing and virus safety measures.
In the meantime, a private firm employee Delwar said everything was usual except the public transportations.
"The ridesharing motorcycles are carrying people without caring minimum about the health safety. We are paying more to go to the office. What kind of lockdown is it," he wondered.
However, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told journalists that there are many changes due to the closure of rallies and public transports.
"We hope everyone will follow the lockdown strictly to prevent the infection," he told the media after the virtual cabinet meeting.
"We want to limit the movements. Because the more people will come out, the more the infection will go up. There are few people on the roads as the public buses do not run. From the morning, we see the present situation has changed a lot from the previous one."
Asked whether there would be more stringent directives from the government, the state minister said the local administration and police will strictly implement the directives already in place, and there will be no deviation from that.
As the journalists told the state minister that a number of long-haul buses operated Monday, he said legal action would be taken against them if that happened.
Farhad Hossain said the government did not ban rickshaws. Citing health experts, he said rickshaws are much safer than other vehicles in terms of contracting the virus.
According to TBS district correspondents, the first day of the week-long lockdown was enforced loosely in the divisional and district headquarters too.
On Monday, intersections in Khulna city had as usual crowds since the morning. Though the major shopping malls of the city were closed, shops in lanes and sub-lanes were open.
The city's commercial hub Boro Bazar was abuzz with people since the morning. Only a few customers to the market had their faces covered.
Meanwhile, no long-haul bus left the city's Sonadanga bus terminal Monday. Though city buses did not run, rickshaws, motorised three-wheelers and private cars were commuting.
"I heard there is a lockdown again from today. But I had to come out as I will have to starve if I sit idle," Babul Mia, a rickshaw puller in Khulna city, said.
TBS Noakhali correspondent said businessmen brought out a procession in Begumganj protesting the lockdown. They demanded keeping shops open, maintaining virus safety measures.
In Noakhali, 13 individuals and institutions were fined by the mobile court for flouting virus safety measures.
TBS Tangail correspondent said the first day of lockdown was enforced half-heartedly in the district. A mobile court fined four shops as they were open.
In Chattogram, there has hardly been any initiative from the Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) or the district administration to ensure the implementation of lockdown directives properly.
Long-distance inter-district traffic is closed but the city's public transport is running, loaded with passengers as before in different areas of the city. Many offices and large shopping malls are closed, but other shops and markets are open.
Around 9am on Monday at the entrance of the city near Kaptai road, thousands of people were entering and leaving the city in CNG auto-rickshaws, three-wheelers, and minibuses, from different upazilas.
Very few passengers followed hygiene rules. There were masks with passengers on the chin or in hand.
Government, private and autonomous offices have been instructed to arrange their own vehicles for their staff, but many of their employees were going to the office by public transport.
Moreover, many offices are not following instructions regarding running the office with 50% employees.
In the port city's Bahaddarhat area in the morning, a crowd was waiting on the road for public transport.
Private service holder Shakhoyat Hossain from the Chandgaon residential area of the city said he had been waiting since 8am to catch a bus but the buses were too crowded to get on.
Although some shops are closed along the main road in Bahaddarhat, Muradpur and Chandgaon areas of the city, all kinds of shops are open in the alley or in residential areas.
Kitchen markets are open with no regards for any hygiene rules. Even the city's banks and ATM booths are overflowing with customers on Monday.
On Sunday, the Chattogram district administration issued a notification with instructions to observe the one-week lockdown, asking authorities concerned to be strict to ensure that people comply with health regulations to curb infections.
To this end, 23 teams led by the executive magistrate have been deployed in Chattogram city and 30 more teams in different upazilas outside the metropolis, said Chattogram Deputy Commissioner (DC), Md Mominur Rahman.