West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday extended the lockdown to curb coronavirus cases in the state till the end of July, The Indian Express reported. The government had on Tuesday announced that all educational institutions in the state would be closed till July 31.
The decision was made at an all-party meeting. Announcing a few more relaxations to the existing lockdown rules, Banerjee increased the number of people allowed in religious places, marriage functions and funerals from 10 to 25. However, the movement of people across the state will remain curtailed between 9 pm and 5 am.
The chief minister said the resumption of public transport services has led to a surge in coronavirus infections. “There are high chances of further spike in cases,” she added “Hence, please be careful and follow the guidelines.”
At the meeting on Wednesday, Banerjee also recommended capping the cost of treatment for coronavirus patients, NDTV reported. “Maharashtra and Delhi have done it, we should too,” she said. “All parties demanded this cap [on treatment]...This is not a time to do business. There is a pandemic, and hospitals must work in the spirit of service.”
The state government had eased restrictions on the lockdown from June 1, allowing places of worship to open, and operations at jute, tea and construction sectors to resume fully. The first phase of Unlock 1.0 in Bengal also saw a partial restoration of public transportation of government buses, taxis, ferries, auto rickshaws. On Monday, malls, salons, and religious places in the state were also reopened as part of the second phase.
Work also resumed at different government departments after a two-month hiatus, PTI reported. An unidentified government official at the state secretariat Nabanna told the news agency that most departments recorded almost 70% attendance by noon. Rosters have been prepared for employees who will attend offices on alternate days, while strictly adhering to physical distancing guidelines, the official said.
West Bengal on Wednesday recorded 445 more cases of the coronavirus, which took the total tally of infections in the state to 15,173. The toll rose by 11 to 591.