Mamata orders extension of lockdown in West Bengal till Jul 31

(Eds: Adds inputs) Kolkata, Jun 24 (PTI) Amid burgeoning cases of COVID- 19 in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday announced extension of the lockdown till July 31 with continuance of the existing relaxations. The current spell of the lockdown was to end on June 30.

West Bengal's COVID-19 death toll, meanwhile, rose to 591 as 11 more people succumbed to the disease, while 445 fresh cases pushed the state's tally to 15,173, health department officials said.

Banerjee told journalists after an all-party meeting that though the participants differed over ways to tackle the pandemic, consensus emerged that the lockdown should be extended with relaxations.

There will be complete lockdown in only the containment zones, while elsewhere the relaxations allowed earlier will continue.

Banerjee said all educational institutions will remain shut till July 31.

Government offices will function in a 'segregated manner' with 70 per cent attendance on any given day.

Metro and suburban train services will remain suspended.

Shopping malls, restaurants and other similar establishments had resumed services in Bengal on June 8 after a gap of over two months, with the state government allowing relaxations as part of 'Unlock-1', the first phase of a calibrated exit from the coronavirus lockdown across the country.

Places of worship and private offices were also allowed to open with reduced attendance.

'Today, we have discussed the lockdown issue. Though there are different opinions among the people like (CPI-M's) Surya Kanta Mishra and others, I have told leaders of the political parties present here about our view to extend the lockdown.

'Finally, at the end of the meeting, we are saying that since the COVID-19 is increasing in the entire country it's our responsibility to help improve the situation... So let us come together and extend the lockdown maintaining the relaxations,' Banerjee told reporters.

Senior leaders of all political parties and Speaker of state assembly Biman Banerjee were present at the meeting. PTI SCH RBT SK SK SK