West Bengal government imposes complete lockdown from May 16 to 30, emergency services exempted
The West Bengal state government on Saturday announced that a complete lockdown would be implemented in the state between May 16 and May 30. However, emergency services have been exempted and essential services have been allowed with some restrictions.
In an order signed by the state chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, the government said that the new restriction would come into effect from 6am on May 16 and would remain in place until 6pm on May 30. It also directed the state officials to ensure that the restrictions are strictly followed saying, “District administration, police commissionerates and local authorities shall ensure strict compliance of the above mentioned directives. Any violation of the aforesaid restriction measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of Disaster Management Act, 2005 and under Indian Penal Code.”
The new restrictions have been announced a day after the state reported its highest single-day spike of 20,846 new Covid-19 cases and 136 fatalities on Friday, a bulletin from the health department showed. With this, the cases tally in Bengal reached 1,094,802 while the death toll climbed to 12,993.
Under the new restrictions, all educational institutions in the state would remain closed. Government and private organisations have also been ordered shut except those providing emergency and essential services like health care, courts, fire services and funeral services.
As is the case in many states currently under lockdown, Bengal too has ordered all shopping complexes, malls, markets, spas, beauty parlours, cinema halls, restaurants, bars, sports complexes, gymnasiums and swimming pools to remain closed during the period.
Shops are allowed to function for a limited number of hours under the curfew. While grocery shops and those that sell vegetables, fruits, milk, bread, meat and eggs are allowed to stay open between 7am and 10am, sweetmeat shops have been allowed to operate between 10am and 5pm. Also, jewellery and saree shops can remain open from 12pm to 3pm. However, medical stores and optical stores have been allowed to operate normally.
The government has also capped the maximum number of people allowed at social events. While 50 people are allowed at marriages, funerals have been permitted with 20 people. "All administrative, academic, entertainment, political, cultural and religious gatherings, groupings and congregations shall be prohibited," the order said.
From May 16, all intra-state travel such as trains, metros, bus services and inland water transport have been prohibited except for movement of essential personnel. Also, private vehicles are also allowed only for some emergencies. Meanwhile trucks and goods carriers are allowed for transporting medical supplies, oxygen, essential food commodities, petrol, diesel and LPG.
While 50 per cent strength is allowed in all shifts in tea gardens, jute mills are allowed to operate with 30 per cent strength, the order said. All e-commerce activities and home delivery of all commodities have also been allowed.
Despite the implementation of the new restrictions, the government stressed the need to follow non pharmaceutical interventions like wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing and following hygiene protocols at all times.