by Staff Correspondent in Dhaka;
Bangladesh is set to lift restrictions it imposed more than a month ago to curb the spike in novel coronavirus cases, allowing offices and malls to reopen and the resumption of public transport services on Wednesday.
The number of vehicles increased in the capital, Dhaka, on Tuesday, a day ahead of lifting of the lockdown and the people were seen getting prepared for the post-lockdown scenario. The government on Sunday announced the restrictions will be relaxed to facilitate economy to remain afloat.
A government notice said public and private offices, banks and other financial institutes are to be permitted to reopen provided they follow health guidelines.
Buses, trains and ferries will be allowed to carry passengers at their full capacity. However, transport owners will use only half of their fleet for daily operations, in consultation with the local administration, it added.
As infection figures soared, Bangladesh imposed a nationwide lockdown on July 1, shutting offices, shopping malls and public transport.
However, the restrictions were relaxed for nine days to enable people to move around during the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha festival, before the shutdown was reinstated on July 23 for another two weeks, and then extended for five more days.
Under the new guidelines, shopping malls will operate between 10 am and 8 pm every day. Restaurants are to be allowed to accommodate guests up to half their usual capacity, between the hours of 8 am and 10 pm.
Factories are to remain open, the notice said.
The government on Friday launched a six-day mass inoculation campaign against Covid-19, targeting some 3.5 million people in the rural areas.
A country of more than 160 million, Bangladesh has so far administered first dose among than 14.05 million people and the second dose among 4.7 since its vaccination campaign began in early February.
The South Asian country, which has recorded a massive surge in case numbers in recent months due to the arrival of the most transmissible Delta variant, interrupted its campaign in April after India suspended vaccine exports over supply shortages.
Mass inoculation, however, resumed last month after Bangladesh started receiving doses from China and the United States.
Bangladesh has logged more than 1.37 million infections and 22,897 deaths since the first cases were reported in March last year.