National, Front Page

Relaxed lockdown starts today

City looks festive, forgets health rules

Published : 14 Jul 2021 09:55 PM | Updated : 15 Jul 2021 01:42 AM

With the Eid-ul-Azha just less than a week ahead and the government’s announcement of a 8-day relaxation of the strict lockdown from 15th July, the capital city seems have taken a festive look with thousands of people’s and private vehicles’ coming down the streets on Wednesday, the penultimate day of the ongoing strict lockdown.

The government has declared a relaxation of the strict lockdown from July 15 to 22 on occasion of the Eid-ul-Fitr to be held on July 21.

People seem quite oblivious of the Covid-19 health rules as many of them neither used masks nor maintained social distancing.  Crowds and traffic jams increased in the capital since Wednesday morning. The roads in Dhaka's Mirpur, Kalshi, Banani, Shyamoli and Agargaon as well as in many other areas were flooded with people and private vehicles. However, there were no public transports on the streets.

In addition to various vehicles of emergency services and for transport of goods, there were innumerous private cars, rickshaws, microbuses and minibuses. There were excessive traffic pressures at some major road signals, causing traffic jams which police members were busy handling.

Md Tipu, a rickshaw puller of Mirpur-12, told this reporter, “There are more private cars now than rickshaws. So far, we have been outnumbered."

Md Rakib, a driver of the ride sharing app 'Pathao', said he has been trying to ride his bike off the main road since morning. However, the police hardly stopped anyone even on highway roads.

Besides, in the previous days, except for a few brand shops, most of the shops were open with keeping their shutters half closed. But they seemed fully open on the last day of strict lockdown.

Members of different law enforcement agencies were on the streets but they were also in relaxed mood. Although there were check posts at the corners of the city, they were hardly hard-and-fast. Even though the patrol cars roamed in the alleys, but that did not have much effect on the people and shops.

An electrician and shopkeeper of electrical parts in Kalshi area of Mirpur used to open the shop keeping the shutter half closed. But it was seen completely open on Wednesday.

When asked, he said, "Police and BGB patrol vehicles used to come. Sometimes they would warn us and we would close the shop. But how long can we stay like this? It's better for us if we’re open like before. We want to earn and live. "

In an alley in the D Block area of Mirpur-12, a large number of shoppers were seen shopping on the sidewalk from clothes shops and hawkers. Many did not have a face mask on.

When asked, a buyer named Rina Akhter said, “Since there will be no more lockdown, I will go to my village home. Before I leave, I want to buy some necessary stuff.”

However, public health experts think that such a situation could bring more danger. They say the lockdown was imposed after the rate of transmission became alarming after the last Eid. But no one is obeying this lockdown. It is difficult to say what will happen in the decision to open everything again.

In this regard, Dr Mushtaq Hossain, advisor of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said the transmission is actually surging from the crowds.

National Technical Committee on Covid-19 Member Prof Nazrul Islam recently told the media, "No one was at home during the strict lockdown, they came out with various excuses. And there is no need for rocket science to understand what will happen if the severe lockdown is relaxed."

A police vehicle patrolling in Mirpur-12 was parked on the side of the road. When asked about the duty of a policeman there, he told Bangladesh Post on condition of anonymity, "People's movement cannot be controlled by arrest. So far, we have arrested many people, sent them to court and fined them. But still people have come out, traffic has increased and the stores have opened."

"We do our duty on the streets, but there is no benefit if those who are told to stay home are not aware of it," he added.