Government declared general holiday in red zones, extends shutdown of educational institution till August 6
Both the city corporations in Dhaka are preparing to put on lockdown 45 red zones marked by the national technical committee. They are now waiting for the exact maps and detailed guidelines to enforce the lockdown.
In the meantime, the government has declared holidays in red zones and allowed limited offices to be open in green zones. It also extended the restrictions on movement till June 30 to curb further spread of the novel coronavirus.
Shutdown of educational institutions has also been extended till August 6.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam told The Business Standard that they have received a letter defining 17 red zones among the 45 in Dhaka.
"But the letter is not enough for implementation of the lockdown. We are waiting for the final guidelines," he added.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) officials also reiterated the same.
Covid-19 restrictions extended till June 30
In a circular on Monday, the cabinet division extended the restrictions on movement till June 30.
According to the circular, no one will be allowed to leave their home from 8pm to 6am except in case of an emergency. Moreover, people must wear face masks and maintain health guidelines when they are out outside.
The staff of all military or paramilitary, government, semi-government, autonomous, semi-autonomous, and private offices located in red zones will enjoy a general holiday during this time. The residents of these areas, who work at any of the aforementioned offices, will also have a general holiday.
However, these offices located in the green zones will run their activities on a limited scale. Sick and at-risk individuals, and pregnant women of the green zones will be on leave.
Office staff and transportation of law enforcement agencies and all other emergency services will remain outside the purview of the restrictions.
Markets, groceries and shopping malls must be closed by 4pm and social distancing has to be maintained while buying and selling.
The movement of all kinds of goods-carrying vehicles will continue on roads and waterways.
Additionally, the authorities of all factories – including pharmaceutical, agricultural, production and export-oriented industries – could run their factories upon ensuring security and health services of their workers.
During the restrictions, educational institutions are not allowed to open but online classes and distance learning are permitted. Educational institutions may run administrative activities during the restriction period.
The circular also said the Bangladesh Bank will issue the instructions regarding running regional-based banking systems.
Public transports, airlines, railway and waterway services may run on a limited scale with a fixed number of passengers in areas beyond red zones.
Where are the red zones
Forty-five areas in the capital, 11 in the port city of Chattogram, the entire Gazipur district, and few areas of Narayanganj and Narsingdi were identified as red zones on Saturday.
The strategic working plan of the national technical committee has set the criteria to identify the virus zones. According to the criteria, if 60 or more people per one lakh in a city are infected in the last 14 days, it will be declared a red zone. For a rural area, it will be 10 or more infections per one lakh.
Also, if three to 59 people per one lakh are infected in a city, it will be labelled a yellow zone.
Dhaka North Mayor Atiqul said they are taking preparations to put the 17 red zones in the DNCC jurisdiction on lockdown.
"We have asked for a demarcation or a specific map for the mentioned areas. For example, Mohammadpur and Mirpur are large areas. The health ministry or the health services division should give us a map of the risky residential areas or alleys or lanes or wards. Then, we can go for action," he said.
"We have talked with the cabinet secretary and others concerned regarding instructions for office-goers. Hopefully, residents in the red zone areas can enjoy holiday as per guidelines but it is yet to be finalised," said Atiqul.
He added, "Once we get the detail mapping, we will enforce lockdown within 48 to 72 hours, and the public will get an announcement in their areas."
DSCC Public Relations Officer Abu Naser said Dhaka South Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh convened a coordination meeting on the lockdown for Tuesday noon.
"After the meeting, the decision on when the lockdown will start will be made," he added.
Sources said the identified red zones will be locked down in a customised manner. The most infected areas, or those most prone to infections, will be identified and will be locked down instead of the whole area.
The national technical committee said for the rest of the areas in the country, especially in districts and upazilas, the cut-off point for red zones will be 10 cases per one lakh population in the last 14 days. Also, locally, civil surgeons, deputy commissioners and superintendents of police can decide on the smallest areas according to available data.
Lockdown in red zones, sources said, will be enforced in phases; not in all areas at the same time.
Meanwhile, most of the districts and upazila administrations are deciding on a second phase of partial lockdown in their respective areas.
Chattogram City corporation is going for an experimental lockdown at North Kattoli of ward 10 from Tuesday midnight. Mymensingh district administration declared four areas red zones and will enforce lockdown from Tuesday.
Lakshmipur Deputy Commissioner Anjan Chadra Paul told The Business Standard they are implementing a second phase of lockdown in Kamalnagar upazila from Tuesday.
"We are also planning for the entire district, but the decision is yet to come," he added.
Shuvash Chandra Shaha, additional superintendent of Narayanganj district police, said the district administration had put a few zones under lockdown.
"We have restricted transportation and other activities in those areas and people have been asked not to come out without any emergency," he added.
On June 1, the government decided to divide the entire country into three zones – red, yellow and green – based on the number of Covid-19 cases in different areas. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina agreed on the zoning system and approved it.
At midnight on June 9, an "experimental" lockdown in the capital's East Rajabazar was put in place as the number of cases rose there. A strict lockdown continued for the fifth day until Sunday. People's movement was tightly monitored as volunteers and law enforcers kept a log of individuals exiting from and entering the area.
Drawing on the experience of lockdown in East Rajabazar, the government upgraded its plan and operational procedures in the red zones.