The authorities have started taking punitive measures against those who were not adhering to health guidelines in the capital and other parts of the country in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
As part of the measures, police and shop owners’ leaders kept the shutters of a market in the capital’s Paltan area down for four hours on Tuesday for not adhering to safety protocols.Two mobile courts, led by executive magistrates, also conducted drives and fined several shops in the capital for ignoring health guidelines.
Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity, an association of shop owners, shut down China Town Shopping Mall at Paltan around 9:30am after it was found that recommended health rules were being violated there.
Many shopkeepers were found without masks while shopkeepers and customers were using both exit and entry gates. They were also not maintaining social distancing.
“Because of this, we shut down the market," Helal Uddin, president of the association, told reporters.
He, however, said they later allowed the authorities to open the market after they pledged to enforce health rules strictly.
The two mobile courts carried out drives against those violating health protocols at other shopping malls, including New Market.The drives began around noon. The executive magistrates visited shops and fined shopkeepers and customers who were not wearing masks.
Around 12:45pm, a mobile court, led by Executive Magistrate Sanjib Das, fined Asian Jewellers in New Market Tk 500 after it found one of its employees without mask.
The magistrate told the shop employees that he slapped a very insignificant amount as fine as they are conducting drives to raise awareness.
Defying health guidelines as well as lockdown, people in large numbers, mostly women and children, were found thronging markets and shopping malls for Eid shopping in the capital and elsewhere in the country.
In such a situation, the instructions on maintaining social distancing are largely being violated in overcrowded places, including shopping malls.
In the capital, rush to different markets and shopping malls has seen a sharp rise ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
At most shopping centres, maintaining health safety is a big challenge due to the heavy rush of customers.
Only a few health safety guidelines were maintained in the markets.
Many shop owners and customers were seen with their masks on the chins.
At entry points of some markets, antiseptic mix was being sprayed instead of sanitiser. Besides, there was not enough space inside most of the shops to maintain physical distancing.
Heavy traffic congestion was seen in front of New Market, Mouchak and other shopping malls.
People were seen rushing towards shopping malls in private cars, rickshaws, three-wheelers and even pickups.
Police said people in large numbers were coming out of their residences on lame excuses and rushing towards streets, footpaths and kitchen markets.
Private cars, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws, microbuses and CNG-run auto-rickshaws and many motorcycles sharing rides on contract were seen plying the streets like previous days. Except buses, all modes of vehicles plied different city streets as usual on Tuesday. In some areas, severe traffic congestions were created.
Policemen were found performing the duty of mere onlookers without taking any measure against the lockdown breakers.
Witnesses said although the number of vehicles on the city roads was less at the beginning of the lockdown, now all types of transport except buses can be seen.
With Covid-19 cases continuing to rise alarmingly from mid-March, the government imposed a nationwide lockdown for one week from April 5.
Later, a weeklong ‘stricter’ lockdown was enforced on April 14, which was later extended to April 28. The shutdown was then extended until May 5 and finally May 16.
Shopkeepers and traders waged street protests demanding the reopening of businesses, arguing that they had suffered huge losses last year during the lockdown.
Giving in to the protests, the government allowed them to resume their businesses on a limited scale -- first for five days from April 9 and then from April 25.
Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Md Atiqul Islam recently warned that traders would face legal action if they run shops breaching the hygiene rules amid the pandemic. "If the health safety rules are violated, action will be taken against the traders. Their shops might be closed, if necessary, and they might be jailed or fined," he said.