Covid-19: Lockdown in Kolkata, some other parts of Bengal (2nd Lead)

Kolkata, March 22 (IANS) The West Bengal government on Sunday ordered complete lockdown of Kolkata, eight districts and municipal and district towns besides some rural areas in other parts of the state from 5 p.m. on Monday to Friday midnight to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The order, covering whole or part of all the 23 districts in the state, was given under the West Bengal Epidemic Disease COVID-19 regulations, 2020, framed according to relevant sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

“The government of West Bengal hereby notifies ‘complete safety restriction’ with effect from 5 p.m. on March 23 to midnight of March 27,” said the order, which would come into effect across identified urban and rural areas for prevention and containment of coronavirus.

The order stipulates complete restrictions on public transport services including operation of taxis and auto-rickshaws, closure of all shops, commercial establishments, offices and factories, workshops and warehouses.

“All foreign returnees and other such persons so required by the health personnel are directed to remain under strict home quarantine for a period as directed by the local health authorities,” it said.

The order issued by the Chief Secretary also asked people to stay at home and come out only for basic services while strictly following the social distancing guidelines.

The government also prohibited congregation of more than seven persons in public places and warned that violators would be punished under section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code.

Apart from the entire Kolkata Municipal Corporation area, whole of Howrah, Birbhum, Hooghly, West Burdwan, Nadia, Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur districts have been brought under the ambit of the restrictions.

The original order had included parts of Birbhum and Hooghly, but the government came out with supplementary orders late on Sunday evening signed by Health Secretary Vivek Kumar including the entire area of the two districts in the restrictions.

Establishments and services excluded from the restrictions are banks and ATMs, food, including public distribution system, groceries, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, bread and milk selling, e-commerce of groceries, food items and home delivery of food, petrol pump, LPG gas and media.

Health services, medicine shops, optical stores, manufacturing units engaged in production of essential commodities, telecom, internet, Information Technology and Information Technology enabled services, postal services, fire, civil defence and emergency services have also been exempted from the restrictions.

Other exempted services including law and order, courts and correctional services, police, armed forces and paramilitary forces, electricity, water and conservancy services.

District Magistrates and Municipal Commissioners have been made the competent authority to decide in case there is doubt over any establishment being essential or not.

Seven persons including three members of a family and their maid servant have been detected with coronavirus infection in Bengal so far.

The lockdown decision came after a video conference between the Central government and the state officials on a day the country observed a ‘Janata Curfew’ following a call given by prime minister Narendra Modi to fight community spread of the disease.

The interstate bus services to and from West Bengal have already been suspended by the state government till March 31.

The authorities have also shut down all restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, night clubs, hookah bars, night clubs, massage parlours, amusement parks, museums and zoos from Sunday morning, and ordered that all social gatherings be avoided completely, with even the unavoidable ones having bare minimum attendance till March 31.

In a notification, the state government has threatened strict legal action in case of any violation.

All state educational institutes are closed till April 15.



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