Government announcement of Cox's Bazar as a Covid-19 red zone has exposed tourism prospects to further uncertainty as the industry people had been taking preparation to resume businesses after countrywide shutdown ended.
The pandemic has already paralysed the tourism-centric economy of the southeastern district of the country, says Abu Morsed Chowdhury Khoka, president of Cox's Bazar Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
"Businessmen with investments in Cox's Bazar tourism will have to suffer for years if the situation prolongs. On the other hand, relaxing lockdown in the district will fuel up the virus spread," Khoka said.
He termed the crisis as an insoluble dilemma – either choosing the economy or the public health.
Cox's Bazar, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, was placed under complete lockdown on April 8. Earlier on March 18, the district stopped allowing tourists there, who mostly come to enjoy the world's longest natural sea beach.
Since then, the bustling tourist hub has been left deserted.The two-month countrywide shutdown put the tourism sector people in a fix.
The district's tourism sector alone sustained losses of several crores of taka during the pandemic induced shutdown, and 50,000 tourism staffers lost their job.
Tour Operators Association (TOAC) of Cox's Bazar President Rezaul Karim said they hoped resuming businesses as the shutdown was relaxed on May 30.
"But the announcement of the district town as a coronavirus red zone has poured cold water on the hope," he added.
Kamal Hossain, chief of the local district administration, said they have tested nearly 8,000 suspects as of June 5 and results of around 1,000 came out positive.
The deputy commissioner said 24 have died of Covid-19 infection in Cox's Bazar so far while deaths with coronavirus-like symptoms are also on the rise.
Against such a backdrop, ten wards of Cox's Bazar municipality were locked down from Saturday which will continue to June 20.
At the locked down areas, everyone must stay at home and all modes of public and private transports will stay off the streets. Only vehicles carrying essential goods will be allowed from 8am to 8pm.
Groceries and kitchen markets can remain open for eight hours on Sundays and Thursdays only by maintaining social distancing and other health safety rules.
Other shops and business establishments will remain closed.
Hospitals, pharmacies, ambulances, and vehicles carrying patients, health and essential services workers, and banking services for COVID-19 response will be out of the lockdown's purview.
Organisations providing emergency services will remain open on a limited scale.
97 test Covid-19 positive, 5 die in 24 hours in Cox's Bazar
More 97 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 with five confirmed deaths in the last 24 hours until Saturday evening in Cox's Bazar.
The virus infection in the district has geared up recently. According to district health authorities, so far 964 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the district, and 24 of them have died.
Among the confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the district, 45 are from Cox's Bazar Sadar, 22 from Ramu, 19 from Ukhiya, one from Chakaria, seven from Teknaf, two from Pekua, and one from Moheshkhali upazila.
Some 515 people tested positive for the virus in the last 10 days in Cox's Bazar.