Govt. extends nationwide shutdown until May 16

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DHAKA, May 4, 2020 (BSS) – The government today extended the nationwide shutdown for 11 more days until May 16 to intensify anti-COVID-19 campaign as the virus continued to infect increased number of people and claim lives.

“Considering the overall situation . . . the government has decided to extend the general holiday,” a public administration ministry statement said simultaneously issuing an 11-point directive for stricter enforcement of measures to contain spread of the COVID-19 infections.

According to the statement after the expiry of the ongoing shutdown on May 5, the general holiday would be extended up to May 16 which would include as well the routine weekends and a public holiday on the occasion of the Buddha Purnima.

But the statement reminded all that the shutdown must not be treated as normal time public or general holidays and asked everyone including government employees must comply with movement restrictions alongside directives for physical and social distancing.

This is the fifth time the government extended the vacation after it first announced makeshift closure of public and private offices and non-essential business from March 26 to April 4.

The cabinet division, meanwhile, issued a separate 14 directives to be enforced during the extended extra-ordinary shutdown ordering suspension of public transport services even during the Eid-ul-Fitr adding that none could leave his or her workplace during the festival.

The cabinet division circular was sent to the health ministry and the public administration ministry for subsequent actins saying the directives by now obtained Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s approval.

The public administration ministry statement, on the other hand contained 11-point instructions which was drafted in line with the cabinet division directives.

Following are the public administration ministry instructions:

1. The people and all authorities concerned must strictly follow the directives announced by the Health Services Division during the holidays.

2. Emergency services like electricity, water, gas and other energy related services, fire service, ports (land ports, river ports and sea ports), cleanliness activities, telephone and internet services, postal services and vehicles and people related to the services will remain out of purview of the instructions.

3. Movement of all kinds of vehicles like cargo vessels, trucks and Lorries used exclusively for transportation of commodities will continue.

4. The holiday will not be applicable for agriculture products, fertilisers, pesticides, foods, industrial products, goods of state’s projects, kitchen market, pharmacies, hospitals and emergency services and the people related to the services.

5. Doctors and health service providers, vehicles engaged in transporting medical equipment, including medicines, and people engaged in mass media (print and electronic) and cable TV networks will remain out of the purview of the holidays.

6. All factory authorities, including medicine industry and production and export-oriented industries, could keep open their factories ensuring safety and healthcare services for the workers. They should ensure the maintenance of health regulations announced by the Health Services Division for the factories.

7. Considering the situation, the sectors related to industrial factories, agriculture and production and supply chain will be open in phases.

8. No educational instruction would be allowed to remain open during the holidays.

9. Bangladesh Bank will issue necessary instructions on keeping open the banking system considering the convenience of business and commerce on the occasion of Ramadan and Eid.

10. All ministries and divisions will keep their offices open as per their requirement and issue specific instructions on operating activities of their affiliated offices.

11. Nobody will leave their respective workplace during the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.

On March 23, the government first declared a 10-day countrywide holiday from March 26 to April 4, ordering shutdown of all government and private offices alongside businesses including transport services of all modes and called out armed forces “in aid of civil power” to enforce the shutdown alongside police and other law enforcement agencies.