The army will aid local administrations from Wednesday in implementing awareness measures such as social distancing in divisional cities and district towns
- Public, private offices shut from March 26 to April 4
- Army will review treatment of coronavirus patients, quarantine of returnees and suspected cases
- Public transport will be limited
- Only kitchen markets, food and medicine shops, hospitals and emergency services will remain open
- People advised to stay home unless emergencies like treatment, buying food and medicine or attending funerals
- Owners to decide RMG factory closure
- The prime minister will address the nation on Wednesday.
The army will start fanning out across the country on Tuesday to enforce social distancing rules and all public and private offices will remain closed until April 4 as the government gears up its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam unveiled the government's measures in a press conference on Monday as the country recorded its third death from Covid-19 and 33 confirmed patients.
The army will aid local administrations from Wednesday in implementing awareness measures such as social distancing in divisional cities and district towns. In coordination with district magistrates, they will review arrangements for treatment of coronavirus-affected patients and quarantine for the suspected cases, he said.
The army will review if there is any flaw or negligence in mandatory quarantine of returnees from abroad, the cabinet secretary added.
"The government has taken up these steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus. People are requested not to come out of their homes unless it is an emergency."
Latest measures taken by the government partially placed the country under lockdown. All the schools and colleges and cinema halls were shut down last week. All sorts of gatherings, be it social, political, religious or cultural, have been banned. Non-essentials shops are supposed to be closed by Wednesday. City streets are getting empty as a large number of people have left the capital for their hometowns.
The cabinet secretary said only kitchen markets, medicine and food shops, hospitals and other emergency services will remain open during this time, while public transportation will be limited.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday held a meeting with the state minister for relief and senior government officials to decide the government's actions. She also had a meeting with the army chief earlier in the day.
The prime minister will address the nation .
The vacation period for all public and private offices includes five workdays from March 29 to April 2.
"March 26 is a general holiday and March 27 and 28 are weekends. With these days, March 29 to April 2 will be public holidays," the top bureaucrat said.
Emergency official works, if there are any, should be done online. Government offices that feel necessary to stay open can do so, the cabinet secretary clarified.
He advised people to stay home during the period and to use enough protective measures while using public transport if travel is necessary. Transport workers must use masks and hand gloves while in the transport.
The calls for avoiding crowds, social gatherings and public places were largely being ignored, prompting the deployment of the army across the country to ensure social distancing from .
"Members of the Armed Forces will help the local administrations as per their requirement," the Cabinet Secretary Khandker said, announcing the measures to prevent the virus from spreading further.
The Bangladesh Bank will instruct banks to keep limited services open for the people during the period, he added.
As low income people are the worst hit in the cities due to the shutdown of work and small businesses, the government will facilitate them in settling in their village homes under the "Ghore Fera" scheme. These people can also settle in Bhasan char if they want, he informed, adding that deputy commissioners have been instructed accordingly.
Closure of RMG Factories
About the closure of the RMG factories, Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, principal secretary to the prime minister, said the owners of the factories would decide on it.
Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), in a comment posted on a social media group for journalists, said the association feels the decision of shutting the factories should come either from the government or the owners.
The BGMEA cannot take such a decision, she added.