People appear to be increasingly reluctant to follow health guidelines while the government has imposed 11-point restrictions aimed at curbing the recent surge of Covid-19 infections, triggered by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
While experts have recommended engaging the masses to implement the directives, the health minister has cautioned that the growing recklessness among people might lead to a worse situation and another lockdown will have to be imposed.
On Sunday, Health Minister Zahid Maleque urged people to maintain health safety protocols that are in place, and said, "Another lockdown will cause a lot of harm to the country and we don't want to move in that direction"
Going around the capital on Saturday, it was found that people, in general, are ignoring most of the 11-point restrictions, which came into effect on 13 January.
At various points in Dhaka, including Mogbazar, Shahbag and Motsho Bhaban area, most people travelling in public buses were seen either not wearing masks properly or not wearing masks at all. In hotels and restaurants, staffers are not checking people if they have vaccine cards.
"It is difficult to wear masks all the time, it is suffocating," Mohammad Shajib, a Gazipur Paribahan helper told The Business Standard.
Shajib said he keeps his vaccination card with him but wears the mask when he sees cops.
Manjur Hossain, a passenger in the bus, said, "I just took off my mask, as it is very difficult to wear it for a long time inside buses."
Seating arrangements at the NewStar Hotel in the Mogbazar area were found to be ignoring social-distancing guidelines and people coming in were not being checked if they had their vaccine card with them.
"How do we deny people food if they are not carrying their vaccine card," asked Mohammad Muhibur Rahman, the cashier of the hotel.
Bangladesh Restaurants Owners' Association Secretary-General Imran Hasan told The Business Standard, "We have directed all staffers to carry vaccine cards at all times. They are also instructed to talk to the customers coming in without cards and explain to them that selling food to anyone without proof of vaccination will cause problems for the owners."
Experts are saying, although some of the points, laid out in the restrictions, are scientific, it is very difficult to implement those.
It is possible to ensure that vaccine cards are checked at big restaurants, but in small restaurants and street food stores, it will be rather difficult as more than half the population is yet to be fully vaccinated, they pointed out.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services data, 32.33% of the total population is so far fully vaccinated while 48.31% have received one jab.
"It will not be possible to implement the restrictions unless people are engaged," Prof Muzaherul Huq, former adviser (Southeast Asia Region) of the World Health Organization (WHO) told The Business Standard.
"In tackling the pandemic, it is crucial to involve people along with building awareness, according to WHO," he said and added that the government is working on creating awareness but is not involving people.
Stressing the importance of wearing masks, Prof Huq said, "When everyone starts wearing masks properly, the spread will slow down."
He also recommended that the government should distribute a pair of reusable three-layer masks to people.
"Even after that, if people are reluctant to use masks, the ward commissioner concerned and the individual should be fined," he suggested.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh reported seven more deaths from Covid and 3,447 cases in the last 24 hours till 8am Saturday.
The health officials recorded the positivity rate at 14.35% testing 24,028 samples across the country.
With the latest figures, the death toll reached 28,136 and the case tally climbed to 16,12,489 in the country.
Dr M Mushtuq Husain, adviser to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research told The Business Standard, "Every week the positivity rate is increasing two or three folds over the previous week."
He warned that if we fail in implementing the restrictions, the rate of infection is likely to break records.
Dr Husain recommended that social welfare organisations, the private ones, in particular, should be utilised along with the government administration to implement the regulations.
He suggested that the Red Crescent and the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) can be leveraged to engage people.