Cargo and emergency service vehicles will be exempted from the ban
Public transport around the country will be suspended from Monday, when the new weeklong nationwide lockdown begins in a bid to curb the latest worrying spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader made the announcement during a press briefing from his official residence on Sunday morning.
Transports carrying essential goods, emergency services vehicles, and vehicles carrying fuel, medicines, perishable and relief items, newspaper and garment products will, however, be allowed to operate, said Quader, also the general secretary of ruling Awami League.
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With Covid-19 cases and deaths rising, Bangladesh is all set to go into a weeklong nationwide lockdown from Monday, the second since the pandemic broke out in the country in March last year.
The country has been logging over 5,000 cases and 50 deaths from the deadly virus in the past few days.
On Saturday, Bangladesh reported 5,683 new Covid-19 cases and 58 new deaths, making the tally at 630,277 and death toll at 9,213, said the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Earlier, on March 29, the government issued an 18-point directive, imposing fresh restrictions to tackle the spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths. It said then the new curbs will remain in force initially for two weeks.
In a gazette notification, it banned public gatherings in areas with a high rate of infection and restricted gatherings in all types of public events, including social, political and religious. It also said that public transport will carry passengers half of their seating capacity and must maintain the health safety guidelines.
The directives were then followed by the closure of all entertainment centres and tourists spots across the country. And finally, the lockdown was announced.
On March 30, the Road, Transport and Bridges Ministry issued a circular instructing public transports not to carry passengers more than 50% of their seating capacity while hiking fares by 60%, with effect from March 31 for the next 14 days.
Following this, agitated office-goers and commuters staged a demonstration at Dhaka’s Khilkhet bus stop area on April 1 after failing to find buses while a human chain was held at the central Shahid Minar in Sylhet on Saturday to protest against the increase in public transport fares.