The West Bengal government today announced that the state will go under a near lockdown for two weeks starting tomorrow. Looking to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections, all offices and educational institutions will be shut down during this period. Even transport services, including Kolkata Metro, will come to a halt, the government has said.
Only emergency services will be allowed, the state’s notification says, adding that groceries and shops selling essential items will stay open between 7 am to 10 am, West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said today.
Interestingly, sweetmeat vendors will be allowed to function between 10 am and 5 pm. Similarly, petrol pumps will stay open and so will banks, although only between 10 am to 2 pm.
While industries will be closed, tea gardens will be allowed to function but only at 50 per cent strength.
No cultural, political, academic, administrative, or religious events and functions will be allowed in the state during the lockdown and no outdoor congregations will be permitted between 9 pm and 5 am, the government has said.
The state reported 20,846 fresh Covid cases and 136 deaths related to the disease yesterday. The number of active cases has increased in West Bengal by 1,579, too.
It elected a new government only recently, following a long eight-phase polling preceded by hectic campaigning. Many see the spike in Covid cases in the state as a direct result of the election during which the pandemic protocol was rarely observed by political parties and leaders.