As a result of government-issued guidelines and growing consciousness in the masses about the pandemic, almost every sector in the city has undergone changes
After a two-month shutdown due to Covid-19 pandemic, life resumed in Dhaka city from May 31.
On the same day, photos of crowded buses went viral on social media.
People expressed anger at the apparent disastrous decision to reopen everything amid the ongoing pandemic, and also for failing to control the crowd despite allowing the transport companies to raise fare by a whopping 60 percent.
Interestingly, although almost all the passengers in the images had facemasks on, they were surely not pictures from that day, because bus services actually resumed a day later.
Someone posted some old photos- may be from immediately before the shutdown- and since most people stayed home, or outside the city, they could not realise that the photos did not represent the reality.
After all, who would have thought city buses would not be sardine-packed with commuters when everything reopened?
In reality, one and a half month after the reopening, city buses still ply the Dhaka roads half-empty, complying with government regulations.
Not that bus conductors have to fend off thronging passengers.
While that does happen occasionally in some spots, generally, there are fewer passengers.
Every passenger has to wear facemasks, and conductors must use hand-sanitising spray for every commuter.
Although fare increased significantly, usual fight over the fare is now rare, indicating a triumph of reason and empathy.
Due to the infection risk on public transports, Dhaka city has seen a fresh rise in cycling.
Seasoned cyclists who had stopped commuting on cycles earlier and confined their habit to sport only, have resumed using bicycles.
New cyclists have hit the streets too.
Bicycle shops in Puran Dhaka's Bongshal have reported a spike in sales.
The demand for cycle lanes is gaining traction.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam on June 27 proposed building a cycle lane along a canal that DNCC just completed excavating from Ashkona Hajj Camp to Bonorupa Housing.
On a limited scale
Despite the end of what government called "general holidays," businesses and offices were instructed to maintain social distance and operate on a limited scale.
For weeks, people trolled over the term "limited scale", thinking this would not work, and people would be engaged in business as usual.
However, as a result of those government-issued guidelines, and also because of growing consciousness in the masses about the pandemic, almost every sector is operating on a limited scale, and has undergone changes.
The Business Standard has compiled and illustrated some of the most noteworthy changes that already happened in Dhaka city.
Shopping: Physical vs online
After the country went under shutdowns in late March to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, shopping for essentials and luxury items also saw a change.
For example, earlier people felt more comfortable in conventional shopping techniques – where they would visit the malls and shops physically and have a closer look at the product before buying it.
But as the pandemic struck, malls shut their doors and people had to sit at home to keep themselves safe.
But shopping never stopped. Amid the pandemic, online shopping witnessed a sharp rise.
Even after the malls opened following the government directive, not too many people are going out in fear of contracting the virus.
In the last four months, several e-commerce platforms have taken birth and the ones who were already in the market expanded their operations to cater to the needs of thousands of citizens who are locked in their respective homes.
People have been using these online platforms even for grocery shopping for convenience and safety.
Even after reopening, such practice remains as the first choice of many people.
Besides, local grocery shops in some areas are giving the residents home delivery these days.
All they need to do is call the shop owner and place their order, the goods are then delivered to the door as soon as possible.
Just to stay safe from the virus, shoppers are willing to pay extra money for getting their goods delivered at their doorsteps.
However, due to increased pressure on the delivery services, number of delivery complaints also increased as customers did not get their deliveries on time and sometimes the received products did not match the images shown in the advertisements.
Restaurants and food delivery
Due to the pandemic, the restaurants and coffee shops in the city were all closed down, keeping human contacts at a minimum.
The places which were always abuzz with groups of people laughing, chatting and enjoying themselves suddenly fell silent like graveyards.
The city people who enjoy eating out or going to cafés regularly with friends initially had a very difficult time.
But when restaurants shut their doors, people started cooking their favourite dishes at home.
This year, there were no iftar outings or sehri nights during Ramadan and most people took up the challenge to make their versions of jilapi, haleem and other dishes including pizza.
Initially, the number of food deliveries also dropped significantly.
Many people were not ordering food online.
Restaurants have reported a drop in online and offline sales.
However, when they opened during Ramadan, most offered takeaways through delivery services like FoodPanda, HungryNaki, Pathao Food, Shohoz Food, Khaas Food etc. The restaurant businesses experienced a slight rise again.
Last month, the country's online-based market giant Evaly came up with food delivery service for residents of Dhaka.
So far, more than 70 restaurants have partnered with Evaly's e-food delivery service.
There are more than 7,000 restaurants and food outlets in Dhaka, according to the Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association.
Even those who are open at the moment are struggling to survive, and are nowhere near a normal scenario.
Socialising in a new manner
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people socialise in the city. "Social distancing" has come in the way to pull friends apart.
As the country went under shutdown, tea-stall hangouts shifted to virtual chitchat sessions.
Groups of friends are posting screenshots of group video chats on messenger.
This way, people are reconnecting with friends who are living in other cities and other time zones.
These online connections have helped busy people to reconnect with friends and families.
On one hand, the pause in the busy life made many people realise the importance of relationships as they went back to their friends and families through a virtual platform.
On the other hand, many people are spending their lockdown afternoons on rooftops, bridging the gap between neighbours.
Until the lockdown started, many people did not know their next-door neighbours.
But now, things have changed as people have started mingling with their neighbours on the rooftop. Some have also taken up flying colourful kites in the evenings, creating a lovely sight for others.
No loitering at parks
Before the shutdown, major open spaces in the city including Ramna Park, Suhrawardy Udyan, Chandrima Udyan and the area near Dhanmondi Lake were always filled with people who came there to exercise, or sit with friends for a lively chat, or simply to get some fresh air.
According to sources, at least 5,000 people used to come to these parks every day.
Closing down those parks and other recreational spots caused people to feel suffocated.
On the other hand, many people have bought treadmills or other exercising equipment for indoor workouts.
Very recently, some parks and public places have reopened, and people have started going there to jog or walk, wearing masks.
But sitting inside the parks for hours and having long conversations are still not being allowed.
Ramna Park, one of the most visited parks, however, is yet to reopen. Many regular visitors to this place now jog and stretch outside the park.
Workplaces are not the same anymore
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work. Dependence on digital technology is now higher than any moment of the past.
Many offices are sparsely populated as companies are still allowing their employees to work from home.
Depending on the nature of work, only some staff members are coming to work, that too on a roster basis.
Many offices have restricted team lunches, physical meetings and casual gatherings.
In most workplaces, staffs enter the office after passing through several screening steps.
For example, shoes are sprayed with disinfectant and body temperature is checked before they board the elevator.
The number of people allowed in the elevators at a time is also restricted, based on the capacity.
Before rushing to the desks, sanitising hands is a must.
Wearing masks and gloves has been made mandatory and many offices instructed everyone to remain seated without moving around much.
Meetings are mostly taking place online and urgent matters are being sorted over the phone.
Some said that gossips over lunch and smoke breaks have almost disappeared from their workplaces.
In many offices, everyone is eating lunch at their desks despite having dining rooms in order to avoid physical contact as much as possible.
Ashikur Rahman, head of sales at Platform Solutions Ltd, was sad that the pandemic has changed his office environment forever.
"It was always a pleasant environment at the office, where we could take breaks, eat together, and release a bit of pressure. But now it is just work and nothing else," Ashikur said.
Education goes digital
Students do not have to wear uniform these days.
Schools, colleges and universities were closed in March. After a few weeks, some private universities started taking online classes.
Others followed suit gradually. On May 7, the University Grant Commission (UGC) issued guidelines for private universities allowing them to take online assessments.
Assessments were done through submission of written assignments and oral tests.
Public universities joined the bandwagon of digital classrooms from July 1.
Schools and colleges have also shifted to online classes as a temporary measure.
There is a general dissatisfaction over the ongoing online education among teachers, students and guardians alike.
Some students cannot afford mobile data and some others have poor internet connection.
This digital classroom, however, failed to bring students from all walks of life under the new learning method.
Silver screens gone dark
Long gone are the golden days of the Bangladeshi film industry. Cinemas have also long ceased to be places of family entertainment.
Yet 174 cinema halls across the country used to have some audience, especially on occasions such as Pahela Baishakh, Eid and Durga Puja.
Like all other businesses, cinemas have also been closed since the shutdown began.
Although some business establishments, offices, courts, etc have reopened on a limited scale after the shutdown was lifted, cinemas are still locked.
The owners think it is risky to open because there will be huge crowds and most of the moviegoers will not follow social distancing rules or health guidelines.
According to sources, even if cinemas are allowed to reopen, more than 50 theatres will still be out of the game because those have been shut down for good.
The famous Abhisar Cinema at Tikatuli in the capital will not reopen. Most of those outside Dhaka are unlikely to reopen.
Sarwar Bhuiyan Dipu, president of the Hall Booking Agents Association, has four cinemas in Chandpur, Matlab, Feni and Joydevpur.
He said he cannot open any of these in the future even if the Covid-19 situation improves.
Madhumita and Balaka in Dhaka city may reopen, some industry insiders said.
However, Madhumita's Managing Director Iftekhar Ahmed Nowshad said, "I am not sure if I will reopen the hall because I cannot make profits anymore."
Of course, the crisis of good films will continue to be a problem, said Iftekhar, also a former member of the censor board. "If there are no good films to run, there is no use in saving the halls."
With many cinema hall owners having announced shutdowns, it is not yet possible to say how many will reopen once allowed.
But the number will be between 40 and 50, according to an industry insider.
With hopes of saving the movie industry, shooting of films resumed on June 5 at the Film Development Corporation (FDC).
Meanwhile, some of the moviegoers have inclined more towards online platforms to quench their thirst for the silver screen.
Farzana Hoque, a young woman living in Puran Dhaka, is a regular moviegoer.
She watched her last cinema at Balaka cinema hall on March 12, a few days before the shutdown.
As the halls closed, she has now turned to YouTube for watching movies. "I used to watch movies online before too, but now I am compelled to watch more on this medium. But nothing can be a replacement for the big screen," said Farzana.
Empty houses for rent
According to a joint survey conducted by Brac, DataSense and Unnayan Shamannay, the pandemic has put 10.22 crore people at financial and economic risk.
Among the surveyed, 34 percent family said at least one of the family members has lost their job.
74 percent of families witnessed a fall in their income while 14 lakh expatriate workers are returning home after losing their livelihoods.
The impact has been severe on many residents of Dhaka.
According to Bahraine Sultan Bahar, president of Bharatia Parishad, more than 50,000 tenants have already left the capital and more pandemic-hit people plan to follow the lead.
While the lower-income group has been hit the hardest, many of the middle-income people are also feeling the heat.
Having lost livelihood, many families are leaving the city for their village homes, and many are shifting to houses with a lower rent.
As income falls, some people are sending their family members to villages, and moving to small houses to cut down on expenditure.
As a result, many building in the city have to-let signs displayed on their entrance.
In some areas, house rent is falling for the first time in history of the city.
Some tenants also managed to negotiate a temporary discount on house rent.
City of broken dreams and renewed hopes
For many, the city life that was once a beacon of hope, suddenly became a burden.
Coronavirus has reminded many that a city which neither gives land to people, nor a place to call home, is no city to hold dear.
For others, Dhaka continues to give rays of hope on a limited scale.