Another 14-day nationwide strict lockdown began Friday morning, with the Covid-19 situation deteriorating all across the country.
Following an eight-day break, the lockdown restrictions came into effect just a day after the end of the Eid holidays.
All government, semi-government, autonomous and private offices and all kinds of factories will remain closed during the lockdown. Besides, all shops, shopping malls and markets as well as public transport on road, rail and waterways will be closed. Domestic air services will remain suspended.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) arrested 403 persons for violating lockdown restrictions. Among them, 203 were punished and fined a total of TK1,27,270 by mobile courts.
The traffic division of DMP imposed fines totaling Tk11 lakh on owners/drivers of 441 vehicles over violating the lockdown.
Although the lockdown was pre-declared, most people who had gone to their ancestral homes to celebrate Eid headed back to Dhaka in the morning on buses, launches and private vehicles.
People returning to their homes in the capital suffered immensely as public transports were not operating on the streets of Dhaka due to the fresh lockdown. Hundreds of people were seen hiring rickshaws or rickshaw-vans to reach their destinations.
Meanwhile, at least 8.2 lakh people entered the capital on Thursday, noted Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar on his social media account on Friday.
Besides, a total of 1,04,94,000 people, users of different mobile operators, left Dhaka between 15 July and 22 July, said the minister.
Law enforcing agencies, including the army, were in the field since the morning on Friday. Police and RAB personnel set up checkpoints on the main roads of the capital. They took legal action against violators of lockdown restrictions. But people were allowed to enter and leave the capital.
In Gabtoli and Aminbazar, two entry points of Dhaka, a large number of private vehicles and rented cars were checked by police officials, with most denied entry into the capital.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner (Mirpur Division) ASM Mahtab Uddin said, "Vehicles such as buses and rented cars are being emptied by the police, but the passengers are being allowed to enter Dhaka on foot."
"Even then we are checking if these Dhaka-bound people are wearing masks and maintaining social distance," he said, adding that the police check-posts of these two spots are allowing owner-driven private vehicles, which had set out for Dhaka on Thursday night, into the capital.
Talking to The Business Standard, Masud, an employee of a private company, said he had to travel all the way from Barishal via Paturia as his workplace is still open.
"I travelled by bus to Aminbazar. We were stopped there and asked to walk," he said as he looked for alternative transport.
Within the capital, rickshaws and rickshaw-vans were seen carrying passengers to different locations.
In Merul Badda, a check-post of the Bangladesh Army was set up to search lockdown-violating vehicles and bar those from travelling further.
Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers, who came to Dhaka on a launch from South Bengal, were in trouble as they could not get any vehicles to reach their destinations in the capital after disembarking at the Sadarghat terminal.
Passengers were seen waiting for hours for vehicles. Many of them eventually began walking to their destinations. However, women, children and elderly people were seen sitting on the road as they did not have the energy to walk to their destinations.
Eva Akhter, who was sitting with a baby on her lap, had to go to Boubazar in Tongi, which is more than 25 kilometres away from the terminal. She also had a few bags with her.
The passenger from Barisal said that it is not possible to walk with the child in any way.
"This lockdown is nothing but putting us in trouble. I did not realise that it would be difficult to do so in the morning. I do not know how I will go now," she added.
A passenger, Md Akash, who had to reach Abdullahpur, said, "It is not possible to walk that far. I cannot find any vehicle either. I do not know what to do now."
Later, however, he set out for Gulistan on foot.
"So many passengers are in trouble, but we can do nothing about it," said a driver of a Victor Classic Paribahan bus, parked beside a road near the Sadarghat terminal.
As Selim, Dhaka Metropolitan Police sergeant in charge, put it, "We are strictly imposing the lockdown. We have not been given any decision regarding passengers. If a new decision is made, we will act accordingly."
Passengers and private vehicles were seen crossing the Padma River on ferry on Friday via the Shimulia-Banglabazar route, ignoring the first day of the fresh lockdown.
Meanwhile, hundreds of southbound passengers arrived at Shimulia Ferry Ghat via Dhaka-Mawa Expressway even though the launches on the route were not operating.
BIWTC Shimulia Ghat Manager (Commerce) Mohammad Faisal said 14 ferries are currently plying the Shimuli-Banglabazar route.
"Passenger vehicles that reached the wharf before the lockdown came into effect (6am) are being allowed to cross. There were 60-70 private and cargo vehicles at the wharf. The number of ferries will be reduced after they have crossed over," he said.
BIWTC Shimulia Launch Ghat official Md Solaiman said launches had stopped operating on the route after 10pm Thursday.
It has already been announced that during the ongoing lockdown restrictions will be much stricter than before.
However, sectors related to rawhide and food production; and industrial companies manufacturing products and medicines for the prevention of Covid-19 will remain outside the purview of the restrictions. In addition, banking activities will be on a limited scale.
Offices of insurance companies and the stock market will be open. Trading in the stock market will be limited in coordination with bank transactions. Insurance companies will also be open to a limited extent.
Earlier, the government relaxed the lockdown from the morning of 15 July.