When the country is witnessing the deadliest ever time of coronavirus pandemic, Dhakaites have found themselves in a head-scratching quandary as the capital city has rolled back to its bustling form for a week right before Eid.
On the first day of lockdown relaxation, heavy traffic and congestion were seen in most areas and intersections in Dhaka.
Pedestrians, personal cars, motorcycles, rickshaws and other vehicles swelled on the streets of the capital since morning.
Homebound passengers swarmed Mohakhali bus terminal from the morning, keeping it busy with inter-district buses leaving the terminal one after another. At that time, many passengers and drivers were seen indifferent to hygiene rules.
On the other hand, thousands of South Bengal-bound holidaymakers have thronged the Shimulia Ferry Ghat to cross the Padma River on ferries. Due to the extra pressure, freight trucks and private and public transport passengers on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route have to wait for a long time.
Restrictions have been eased in the interest of celebrating the holy Eid-ul-Adha, and keeping public transports, trade and commerce, and economic activities normal during the Eid celebrations, said the Cabinet Division.
After Eid, strict restrictions will be enforced again for 14 days from July 23 at 6 am to August 5 at 12 midnight.
During the strict lockdown period, all government, semi-government, autonomous and private offices will be closed. Road, rail and waterways public transport (including domestic aircraft) and all types of motorised vehicles will be suspended. All shops including shopping malls / markets and factories will remain closed.
Cattle markets will also be set up with the Covid-19 safety measures in place ahead of Eid. At least 19 temporary sacrificial animal markets, temporary sacrificial animal markets, are already seeing buyers and sellers coming in.
Although the government has instructed the public to wear masks in all outdoor activities, comply with the health guidelines and avoid events with mass gatherings, the brief reopening amid surging fatalities has been heavily criticized by the experts and advisers.
Public health experts said the fatality counts are less likely to calm down now, rather the Eid-centric movements with the eased movement curbs may push up the death curve.
"The infection curve will jump again after the Eid due to the movements. Then the daily deaths will also rise," said Prof Nazrul Islam, a noted virologist and the former vice-chancellor of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
Meanwhile, the health directorate also expressed its concern over relaxing the virus curbs from 14 July to 23 July centring the Eid.
DGHS Spokesperson Dr Robed Amin said, "There will be no way to control the infection rate if health guidelines are not followed properly during the eight days of reopening public transport, shopping malls, sacrificial animal markets ahead of Eid."
According to the health directorate, the Covid-19 death rate is now at 1.61% -- up from the previous month's 1.5%, with 2.6% fatalities.
During the peak of the Covid first wave in July last year, the highest daily caseload was 1,264 while the highest single-day deaths were 55. Halfway through July this year, the country has broken the record of monthly fatality count in the deadliest April 2021.
In April, 2,404 coronavirus patients died as the month recorded the highest 112 deaths on a single day. Besides, the daily death counts crossed the 100-plus mark five times in that month.
But the first half of this July has already witnessed 200 plus deaths for the fourth day in a row Wednesday and 100 plus deaths for the previous eight days. This month also reported the single-day highest 230 fatalities.
To curb coronavirus infections, the government has been imposing restrictions in phases since 5 April this year. Besides, district-wise restrictions were also enforced.
But, as the situation was not coming under control, strict restrictions were imposed across the country from 1 July, which expired on Wednesday.