Amid third wave concern, the West Bengal government on Wednesday extended COVID-19 restrictions till July 30 across the State.
All inter-state trains, factories, schools, colleges, and all educational institutes will remain closed. Only staff special local trains will be operational.
Metro railways will operate five days a week with 50 per cent seating capacity from Monday to Friday (starting from July 15). The service, however, will be suspended on every Saturday and Sunday till further orders.
Not more than 50 people will be allowed at weddings and 20 people at funerals. All markets and bazaars will be functional from 7 AM and to 11 AM, while sweet shops will be allowed to function from 10 AM to 5 PM. Other retail shops will be functional from 11 AM to 6 PM with a workforce of 25 per cent and not more than 30 percent crowd at a time.
All Banks will remain functional from 10 AM to 3 PM and shopping malls will be allowed to open but multiplexes will be closed.
All cinema halls, spas and swimming pools shall continue to remain closed. However, swimming pools exclusively for routine practice of State, national, international level swimmers may remain open during 6 AM to 10 AM.
All political/social/cultural/academic/entertainment related gatherings, grouping and congregations shall continue to be prohibited.
The West Bengal government has decided to extend the COVID-19 restrictions after the Union Home Ministry pointed out a massive violation of safety measures in some States (mainly tourists and public places).
Worried over blatant violations of COVID-19 norms in several parts of the country amid third wave concern - Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote letters to the Chief Secretaries of all the States and Union Territory (UT) administrators asking them to regulate crowded places.
Bhalla mentioned that during the course of relaxing restrictions, blatant violations of COVID norms have been observed in several parts of the country, mainly in public transport and at hill stations.
He claimed that massive crowds are thronging the market places, violating norms of social distancing, which consequently leading to increase in ‘R’ factor (reproduction number) in some of the States.
“You may be aware that any increase in ‘R’ factor above 1.0 is an indicator of spread of COVID 19. Therefore, it is important that the authorities concerned shall be made responsible for ensuring COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) in all crowded places, such as shops, malls, markets, market complexes, weekly markets, restaurants and bars, mandis, bus stations, railway platforms/stations, public parks and garden, gymnasiums, banquet halls/marriage halls, stadium/sports complexes (if opened up by the State) as well as at all areas identified as hotspots for transmission of COVID-19 virus. It needs to be ensured that if the norms are not maintained at any establishments such places shall be liable for the re-imposition of restrictions for containing the spread of COVID-19 and the defaulters shall also be liable for action under the relevant laws,” he said.
“The second wave of COVID is not yet over. We ought to remember that while the reach of vaccination is increasing considerably, there is no room for complacency and hence COVID appropriate behaviour must continue. Testing needs to be continued with the same vigor, as adequate testing is extremely essential in terms of checking the virus and early identification of cases. You would appreciate that we must guard ourselves against complacency and laxity, which creep in as positivity declines. Instead, during the periods of low positivity, efforts must be stepped up to prevent any probable future surge,” Bhalla’s letter reads.