Offices reopen in restricted manner after protracted shutdown

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DHAKA, May 31, 2020 (BSS) – The offices and transport services reopened today in a restricted manner after a 66-day general holidays announced in different phases as the government took a move on Thursday to ease the nationwide shutdown that began on March 26.

Ministers, state and deputy ministers, secretaries, officials and employees joined office physically at the secretariat today maintaining the health guidelines.

Disinfectant tunnels have been installed at the entries of some offices.

Train and launch operations also resumed today maintaining health guidelines while plying of passenger buses will resume tomorrow.

If the situation becomes normal, educational institutions will also resume their academic and other activities in phases.

Apparent normalcy in banking activities was also witnessed today as transaction was held between 10am and 4pm as per normal schedule.

Besides, head offices and branches were kept open till 6pm for post transaction activities. But in vulnerable areas, banking activities were operated on a limited scale.

Ministers, including Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, Agriculture Minister Md Abdur Razzaque, LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Md Tazul Islam, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder and Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni, joined office physically today.

Earlier, on Thursday, the Cabinet Division issued a 15-point directive restricting all public activities from May 31 to June 15 as part of measures against COVID-19 when the offices and services would run
cautiously.

“All government/semi-government/autonomous and private offices will remain open on a limited scale under their own management (from May 31),” read the cabinet division order.

But the order exempted “vulnerable people, sick employees and pregnant women” from attending offices and directed that all meetings would be held through virtual media debarring physical presence of people in such conferences unless the situation demanded so in extraordinary cases.

The government also allowed “restricted reopening” of public transport services like passenger buses, trains and ferries with “limited number of passengers” who must wear protective masks during their movements at all times while operators were asked to strictly follow the health directives related
to COVID-19.

The private aviation operators, however, were allowed to restore flight services under their own management maintaining the health guidelines.

The shops would remain open from 8 am to 4 pm strictly enforcing social and physical distancing and maintaining other health guidelines.

But people’s movement from one district to another will be controlled strictly and monitored through security check posts at the entrance and exit points of the each of the country’s 64 districts.

The government statement said despite the eased shutdown the existing ban on public gatherings and people’s movement without urgent necessity from 8pm to 6am would remain enforced while violation of the order would be treated as a punishable offence.

The order issued a 15-point directive simultaneously to regulate public activities in view of the pandemic.

Following are the instructions:

1. The restriction will remain effective from May 31 to June 15 which will include weekends on June 5,
6, 12 and 13.

2. The people’s movement from one district to another will be controlled strictly during the ongoing
restriction.

Check posts will be set up at the entrance and exit points of the each district.

The district administrations will cautiously enforce the restriction with the help of law enforcement agencies. During the enforcement of the movement ban to prevent COVID-19, the people must stay
indoors.

In no way they will come out of their home from 8pm to 6am unless emergency needs (like necessary buying or selling, traveling to workplaces, buying medicines, medical services, funeral activities, etc).

But in all the cases of movement outside at all times one must wear masks alongside following other health rules. Otherwise one will face legal actions for violation of this order.

3. During the period of restrictions the members of the public and all authorities must strictly follow the directives issued by the Health Services Division.

4. Everybody will have to strictly abide by the health directives, including maintenance of physical distancing from one another in bazaars, hats, shops and shopping malls. The shopping malls must keep arrangements of materials including sanitizers for hand washing. They must as well keep arrangements for isinfecting cars and vehicles coming to the shopping malls. The hats, bazaars and shopping malls must be shuttered mandatorily by 4pm.

5. Agencies engaged in law enforcement, ensuring state security and carrying out intelligence activities, emergency services like relief distribution, health services, electricity, water, gas and other energy related services, fire service, ports (land ports, river ports and sea ports), telephone and
internet services, postal services and offices related to essential goods and services will remain beyond the purview of the restrictions along with their employees and vehicles.

6. Movement of all kinds of vehicles (trucks, lorries and cargo vessels) engaged in transporting commodities through highways and river routes will continue.

7. The restriction will not be applicable for agriculture products, fertilisers, pesticides, foods, industrial products, goods of state operated projects, kitchen markets, pharmacies, hospitals and emergency
services and the people related to the services.

8. Doctors, nurses and health service providers engaged in medical services, vehicles and people 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 restriction.

9. All factory authorities, including medicine industry, agriculture and production and export-oriented industries, could keep open their factories ensuring safety and healthcare facilities for the workers. They will have to ensure the application of health regulations for factories announced by the Health Services Department.

10. No educational institution would be allowed to remain open during the restriction. However, online courses or distance learning courses will continue.

11. Bangladesh Bank will issue necessary instructions on full-fledged reopening of banking services.

12. All government/semi-government/ autonomous and private offices will remain open on a limited scale under their own management. But vulnerable people, sick employees and pregnant women will refrain from attending offices. Officials and staff must strictly abide by the 13-point directives issued by the Health Services Division during discharge of their duties at offices. All meetings would be held through virtual media debarring physical presence of people in such conferences unless the situation demanded so in extraordinary cases.

13. None would be allowed to leave his/her station of work during the restriction. Public transport, passenger vessels and trains could resume services on a limited scale with a limited number of passengers, ensuring the health rules. But maintenance of health guideline, including use of protective
masks, announced by the Health Services Division must be ensured at all times. Concerned ministries or divisions will issue necessary directives in this regard.

14. Aviation authorities could restore their services under their own management maintaining the health guidelines.

15. Holding of rallies, meetings, mass gathering and any functions will remain halted during the restriction while the people could offer their prayers at mosques and other places of worship maintaining the health guidelines.