West Bengal government announces extension of COVID lockdown up to June 30

Published : June 14, 2021 21:20 IST

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addressing a media conference in Kolkata on June 14. Photo: PTI

The West Bengal government has extended the COVID-19 lockdown in the State until June 30, 6 p.m. with a few relaxations. Announcing the extension and the relaxations on June 14, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “We have allowed some relaxations so that things do not remain completely shut. In certain places we have allowed 25 per cent to 50 per cent relaxations. We have allowed shops to remain open so they can generate business and earn a living. We have also allowed relaxations in the industries and in government offices.” In an order dated June 14, the Trinamool Congress government said, “State Executive Committee of West Bengal State Disaster Management Authority on a review of the current situation of the pandemic and observing the likely positive impact of the containment measures in declining number of new cases recommended further extension of restrictions with gradual and calibrated approach to relaxations.”

According to the new relaxations, all government offices will be open as per normal working hours with 25 per cent of strength; and private and corporate offices will be allowed to remain open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. with not more than 25 per cent of the strength. As all public transport, including local trains will not run, employers in the private sector will have to make transport arrangements from their end and obtain e-passes from the police. All production units and industries, including IT and IT-enabled services will be allowed to function with 50 per cent of total strength in each shift and subject to vaccination and wearing of masks.

While gyms, swimming pools, spas, along with cinema halls and beauty parlours, will remain closed, games and sports may resume in stadiums and clubs with sports facilities, but without spectators. The government also announced that parks will reopen for walking and exercise from 6 a.m. till 9 a.m., but “only vaccinated people shall be allowed”.

Although the new order allows restaurants and bars, including those in hotels to remain open from 12 noon till 8 p.m. with 50 per cent seating, movement of private vehicles, taxis, and autorickshaws is prohibited except to and from hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic centres, clinics, airport terminal points and media houses. E-passes will have to be obtained from the police. Retail shops in shopping malls and market complexes will be allowed to remain open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with 25 per cent workforce, and “restricted entry of people/customers up to 30 per cent at a time.”

According to the order “Indoor/outdoor shooting and associated activities related to TV programmes and cinema may resume with not more than 50 persons per unit at a time, subject to vaccination, wearing of mask, maintenance of physical distancing with own transport arrangements with e-passes from Kolkata Police.”

This is the second time the lockdown in the State has been extended after the new government took office on May 10. On May 15, the government ordered a near-complete lockdown until May 31, and then extended it until June 15 with relaxations. On June 14, 3,519 new COVID cases were recorded in the State, and the total number of active cases stood at 20,191. Seventy-eight people died on June 14, taking the total number of deaths to 17,052. According to the Chief Minister, around two crore people in the State have already been vaccinated. “On the last day of the elections (April 29), the COVID positivity rate in the State was 32 per cent, it has now come down to around 6 per cent, and we hope to reduce it further with everybody’s cooperation,” said Mamata Banerjee.

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