A nationwide strict lockdown for the next one week starts Thursday to stem the rising tide of Covid-9 infections.
All government and private offices – excluding emergency and some other services – will remain closed as part of this measure and law enforcing agencies will be tough in the field to implement the government move, sources have said.
They added that strong action will be taken against those found violating the lockdown by leaving their homes without any valid reason. Army personnel will also be deployed across the country "in aid to civil power," says a press release by the Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR).
Moreover, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has warned that a case will be filed against anyone caught loitering around during the seven-day lockdown period.
At a press conference held in the DMP Media Centre on Wednesday, DMP Commissioner Mohammad Shafiqul Islam said, "If someone leaves their residence without valid reason, they will be arrested and a case will be filed against them."
"When will interrogate those leaving their homes, and if necessary, we will take immediate action with the help of magistrates. There will be legal consequences for unnecessary movement and perpetrators will face immediate punishment from mobile courts."
He continued, "Lockdown violators may also be produced before a court in a case filed under Section 269 of the Penal Code. This section has a maximum jail term of six months, a fine, or both."
"If anyone uses vehicles, we will take action against them under the Motor Vehicles Act. People might hear that the DMP had arrested 5,000 people on the first day of lockdown. The police will take tough action this time."
Addressing the city dwellers, the commissioner said, "The stricter we are, the safer you will be. We will not allow any type of vehicles to ply the roads, but we are urging everyone to use rickshaws as a method of transportation during emergencies."
What are the lockdown restrictions?
The Cabinet Division issued a gazette notification on Wednesday imposing certain rules and regulations as part of the lockdown measure.
All government, semi-government, autonomous and private offices will be closed during the seven day period. The movement of road, rail and waterways public transports (including domestic aircrafts) and all types of motorised vehicles will be suspended too.
Moreover, all shops including shopping malls and markets will be closed, along with all tourist centres, resorts, community centres and recreation centres. All public gatherings such as social (wedding ceremonies, birthdays, picnics, parties), political and religious ceremonies are suspended too.
Law enforcement and other emergency services such as agricultural elements (such as fertiliser, seeds, pesticides, equipment), crops and transportation, relief distribution, health services, Covid-19 vaccination, electricity, water, gas/petroleum, fire service, telephone and internet (government-private), media (print and electronic media), private security systems, post, bank, pharmacy and pharmaceuticals and other emergency and essential products and services related offices, their employees and vehicles will be able move by showing their institutional identity cards.
Trucks, Lorries, covered vans, and cargo vessels used for transportation of goods will be exempted from the ban. Ports (air, sea, naval and land) and related offices will be exempted from the ban too.
Industries and factories can open and self-manage following health rules. Food shops and hotels-restaurants will be open for takeaway or online order from 8am to 8pm.
Kitchen market goods and daily necessities can be bought and sold in the open from 9am to 5pm in accordance with hygiene rules. Market authorities and local administration will supervise this matter.
No one will be allowed to go outside except for absolute necessity such as medicine, daily essential products, treatment, and burial/funeral etc.
Authorities will Covid-19 vaccine candidates to move after they present their vaccine card. International flights will continue and passengers will be able to travel via car by showing their international travel tickets.
Under the "Army in Aid to Civil Power Act," the Armed Forces Division will deploy the required number of troops to ensure effective patrolling at the field level. The district magistrate will confirm the matter in consultation with the local army commander.
The district magistrate will hold a coordination meeting with the concerned officers at the district level to determine the jurisdiction, method, and time of patrolling of the army, BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh), coast guard, police, RAB and Ansar.
The Ministry of Public Administration will ensure the appointment of the required number of Executive Magistrates at the field level.
Besides, the Director General of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) will allow the district administration and the police force to take legal action on his behalf.
CAAB suspends all domestic flights
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) issued a press release on Wednesday saying all domestic flights have been suspended in Bangladesh due to the lockdown measures.
Medevac/humanitarian/relief flights and cargo flights will remain out of this suspension, and international flights will operate as previously scheduled.
Banks to operate on limited scale
The Bangladesh Bank has asked all banks and financial institutions to operate on a limited scale during the strict lockdown. These institutions will remain closed from 1-3 July and resume activities from 4 July.
Banks will operate from 10am to 1:30pm to facilitate transactions, said a notification from the central bank on Wednesday. Bank authorities however are allowed to conduct internal official activities until 3pm.
Meanwhile, financial institutions will operate from 10am to 2pm during the lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has issued a directive asking worshippers to follow the necessary health guidelines while offering prayers at mosques so that the transmission of Covid-19 can be contained.
It also asked children, elderly, ailing people and those providing care to patients to not join the public prayers at mosques.
Third day of general lockdown
On Wednesday, the 3rd day of general lockdown, although public buses were off the roads, the city saw long tailbacks of private cars, microbuses, rickshaws, staff buses and CNG-run auto-rickshaws. In the morning, there was a rush of vehicles at key points of Dhaka.
Hundreds of people left Dhaka on this day using alternative ways. This caused the ferry ghats of Mawa and Paturia to become crowded by homebound people.