West Bengak CM Mamata Banerjee
West Bengak CM Mamata Banerjee

The Central government has ordered a lockdown in 75 districts across the country where COVID-19 cases were detected in the last two weeks. With four cases being detected recently in West Bengal, the government has ordered a complete shut down across the state.

This includes stopping public means of transport, such as auto rickshaws and taxis.

Exceptions will be made only to ferry passengers to hospitals, airports, railway stations, bus stands and for goods carriers carrying essential commodities.

The Indian railways has already issued a notification for metro railways, surburban, intercity and long distance trains to be shut down till the 31st of March.

The notice by the West Bengal government on the lockdown cites section 7 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1987, and notifies complete safety restrictions in urban and rural areas with effect from 4:00pm on Monday to 12:00am on 27th of March.

All shops, commercial establishments, offices, factories, workshops are to remain shut.

Here too there are exceptions, for armed forces, persons involved in law and order, postal services, banks, atms, grocery and vegetable stores, shops selling fish and meat, medicine stores, petrol pumps, LPG and oil agencies. There are also IT and ITes, postal, internet and telecom services and some government services such as fire and emergency, health, water and electricity conservation. Manufacturing units of essential commodities will be functional too, apart from media houses.

The notice also says that action will be taken against those found flouting norms. More than seven people cannot assemble together in public places. People who have returned to Kolkata from overseas have been asked to stay in home quarantine for a period of time that the State health department deems so.

As far as the Janta Curfew called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes, most people stayed indoors on Sunday.

The iconic Howrah bridge leading to the railway station wore a deserted look, Victoria Memorial which would otherwise have been buzzing with activity, was empty and the Esplanade area which is in the heart of the city was also empty.

At 5 pm, residents in different parts of the city stepped out onto their windows, balconies and terraces to clap, beat steel plates, ring bells or blow conch shells, in keeping with what Prime Minister Modi had suggested. This was a way of recognizing the efforts of healthcare and media professionals and a section of government employees who are risking their lives amidst the COVID-19 alert.

“In our building complex we rang bells, clapped and also beat plates. This is a good step towards curbing the virus. However, other measures need to be taken by the Central and State governments to disinfect localities. Staying home will also the businesses and workforce in offices,” said Nilesh Dujari, a businessman who resides in Ballygunge in South Kolkata.

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Free Press Journal