The government has issued a gazette notification to extend the ongoing holidays till May 5
Extending the ongoing general holidays, the government has decided to allow some factories to reopen with a limited number of workers after ensuring their health, safety, accommodation and transport facilities.
The government has also decided to resume public transport operations gradually, depending on the situation.
These directives came in a gazette notification of the Ministry of Public Administration on Thursday.
The government issued the gazette extending the ongoing general holidays till May 5 to tackle the worsening coronavirus situation in the country.
On April 20, in a video conference Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, "It's true that the month of Ramadan is approaching. We can't keep everything (industries) shut down. We'll have to reopen some areas gradually."
She also said operation of some readymade garment factories could be resumed on a limited scale after ensuring the workers' health, safety, accommodation and transport facilities.
In the evening on that day, leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) met with the premier and discussed issues regarding reopening factories and layoff.
Later, the BGMEA developed a set of guidelines for factory operations and distributed it among its members.
The BGMEA guidelines include workers' health and safety, medical facility along with a Covid-19 taskforce, social distancing at workplaces, ensuring quarantine and self-isolation facilities.
The guidelines mention that a factory should obtain necessary permission from the local and national government agencies as a prerequisite to open. However, factories located in coronavirus epicentres can be opened only after the situation improves there.
The apex body of ready-made garments factories has also formed a taskforce led by its ex-president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin.
However, the new gazette from the government included fresh directives on opening factories along with previous directives for the shutdown period.
"Industrial units, agriculture and production and supply-related sectors will reopen gradually considering the present situation," the gazette reads.
"Drug makers and exporters will also be allowed to run their factories as long as they take steps to protect the health and safety of workers," it added.
Vehicles of emergency services including electricity, water, gas, fire service, cleaning, telephone and internet will be out of purview of the restrictions.
Besides, the same order will be applicable for vehicles carrying agricultural goods, fertilisers, food, medicine, pesticide, food industries, industrial goods, raw materials for national projects, kitchen markets and other daily essentials.
The movement of all goods-carrying vehicles on roads and water vessels on river routes will continue.
The government order also said no educational institution will be allowed to open. The offices can be opened for urgent necessities.
However, in a separate gazette the public administration ministry advised offices under 18 ministries and departments at Dhaka and all over the country to be open on a limited scale.
These ministries and departments are: Prime Minister's Office, Cabinet Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Food, Ministry of Public Administration, Health Services Division, Medical Education and Family Welfare Division, Security Services Division and Public Security Division of home ministry, Ministry of Information, Local Government Division, Rural Development and Co-operatives Division, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.
Earlier, on March 23, the government initially declared a 10-day shutdown, effective from March 26 to April 4. Later it gradually extended the shutdown period till April 25 to ensure social distancing.
The government has discouraged movement after 6pm, instructing everyone to stay at home. Violation of this directive has, at times, resulted in legal action.
The death toll from the deadly virus in Bangladesh has reached 127 and the number of total infected persons stands at 4,186 as of Thursday.