Bengal government extends COVID restrictions till July 30, but allows resumption of Metro services and other relaxations

Published : July 14, 2021 21:04 IST

The Metro in Kolkata. The trains will resume operations on July 16. Photo: RUPAK DE CHOWDHURI/REUTERS

The West Bengal government has extended the COVID-19 restrictions in the State until July 30, but has allowed more relaxation as the situation improves gradually. In an order passed on July 14, the government said, “State Executive Committee of West Bengal State Disaster Management Authority after a review of the current situation of the pandemic recommended further extension of certain restriction measures with graded and calibrated approach to relaxation.” The most important of the relaxation included this time was allowing the Metro railway service to resume operations.

According to the government order, the Metro service – the lifeline for daily commuters in Kolkata – after remaining shut for two months will resume operations from July 16, five days a week with 50 per cent seating capacity. The service will not be available on Saturdays and Sundays, and the Metro authorities and local administration will have to ensure that the passengers maintain COVID compliant discipline. While the resumption of Metro services has come as a welcome relief, daily commuters from the suburbs and districts neighbouring Kolkata still face enormous hardship as intra-State movement of local trains continues to remain suspended.

The government has also allowed all shops and markets, including those that sell non-essential commodities, to remain open “as per usual operational hours”. Restaurants and bars are also being allowed to remain open as per usual hours with 50 per cent seating capacity, “but not beyond 8 p.m.”. While gyms will be allowed to remain open with 50 per cent capacity from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and again from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., swimming pools, cinema halls and spas will remain closed. However, swimming pools will remain open for State, national and international level swimmers for practice between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions will continue to remain closed.

The number of new COVID cases in the State has come down significantly. On July 14, the State recorded 831 new cases, and the total number of active cases stood at 12,640. Fourteen people died on July 14, but the fatality rate in the State has come down to 1.19 per cent. The discharge rate stood at 97.96 per cent. North 24 Parganas recorded the highest number of new cases at 96, followed by Purba Medinipur (83), Kolkata (78) and Darjeeling (74).

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