Bengal govt to impose 15-day complete lockdown from May 16 to stem Covid spread

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(Eds: With details) Kolkata, May 15 (PTI) West Bengal will go under a complete lockdown from Sunday till May 30, the state government announced, as it put in place a host of stringent measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, including prohibiting vehicular movement and disallowing all kinds of gathering.

Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said the lockdown will take effect from 6 am on Sunday till 6 pm of May 30.

'Additional restriction measures to cut down mobility of people and limiting human contact through assembly and congregation is essential to cut the transmission chain of the virus and to contain the pandemic,' he said.

During this period, all government and private offices, shopping complexes, malls, bars, sports complexes, pubs, cinema halls and beauty parlours will remain closed other than those relating to emergency and essential services, including healthcare, law and order, courts, power, drinking water and media.

Movement of private vehicles, taxis and autorickshaws will be prohibited except to and from hospitals, diagnostic and vaccination centres, airports and media houses, the top government official said.

'All intra-state local trains, bus services, metro railway and inland water transport shall remain closed for the 15-day lockdown period, barring movement of emergency and essential services personnel,' he said.

Intra-state movement of trucks and goods carriers shall also be prohibited except relating to medical supplies, oxygen and essential food commodities.

Bandyopadhyay said petrol pumps, auto repair shops, LPG gas offices and distribution centres will remain open, while banks will operate from 10 am-2 pm.

Sweetmeat shops will be allowed to open between 10 am and 5 pm, and jewellery and saree shops from 12 pm-3 pm.

'All gatherings be it administrative, entertainment, political, cultural, and religious gatherings shall be prohibited,' he said, adding that all industries and manufacturing units, other than those relating to medical supplies, will be under the purview of the directive.

Whereas tea gardens will be allowed to operate with 50 per cent workforce in each shift, jute mills can do the same with 30 per cent of its strength, the chief secretary said in an official order.

E-commerce and home delivery services of all commodities shall be allowed, it said.

'District administrations, police shall ensure strict compliance of the directive, Anyone found violating the restrictions will be liable to be proceeded against as per provisions of the Disaster Management Act and under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code,' the order said.

West Bengal has been witnessing a surge in Covid cases since the first week of April, amid the eight-phase assembly elections and high-octane campaigning by political parties.

Till Friday, the state registered 10,94,802 COVID-19 cases and 12,993 deaths. PTI SCH RBT RBT

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