West Bengal government extends COVID restrictions till July 15, but allows limited public transport and reopening of gyms and salons

Published : June 29, 2021 12:04 IST

Student activists of the Left parties stage a demonstration against fake COVID-19 vaccines, in Kolkata on June 28. Photo: PTI

The West Bengal government has extended the COVID restrictions in the State until July 15 but with more relaxations as the daily number of cases continues to decline. The most significant of the new relaxations is that after more than one and half months public transport will be allowed and gyms, salons and beauty parlours can reopen.

In an order dated June 28, the government said, “All movement of public transport, including intra-State (inter-district) government and private buses, inland waterways transport, trams, local taxis, cabs and autorickshaws will be allowed with passengers not more than 50 per cent of the seating capacity at a time, subject to vaccination of drivers and other staff, regular sanitisation of vehicle and mandatorily wearing of masks by all users.” Movement of local trains and metro services continues to remain suspended.

Gyms, salons and beauty parlours, which remained closed even as shopping malls, restaurants and cinema halls were gradually allowed to reopen, can now resume operations. The government order stated, “Gyms shall be allowed to remain open during 6 a.m. till 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with 50 per cent of capacity at a time in each session, provided the employees/staff and customers have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and subject to sanitisation.” Salons and beauty parlours will be allowed to operate from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with 50 per cent seating capacity at a time, and it has to be ensured that the staff and the customers have been vaccinated.

In the earlier round of relaxations, announced on June 14, private and corporate offices were allowed to remain open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. with not more than 25 per cent of the strength; this time the offices can remain open “as per normal working hours with not more than 50 per cent of the total strength subject to vaccination of employees, wearing of masks and maintenance of physical distancing”.

Announcing the new relaxations at a press conference, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “At the time of the eight phase of the Assembly elections (April 29), the COVID infection rate was 33 per cent. We have brought it down to 3.3 per cent. It must be remembered that unlike many other States, ours is a big State with high congestion. Our discharge rate is now 97.36 per cent. We have achieved this because of our hard work and I congratulate all the COVID warriors.”

On June 28, 1,761 new COVID cases were registered in West Bengal and 32 people had lost their lives to the pandemic. The total number of active cases stood at 21,276 and the total number of deaths at 17,676. The highest number of cases were recorded in North 24 Parganas (186), followed by Kolkata (164), Paschim Medinipur (163), Darjeeling (163), Purbo Medinipur (115), and Jalpaiguri (108).