Bengal on Sunday re-imposed certain Covid restrictions – closing of schools and colleges, and capping attendance at private and government offices at 50 per cent – in the light of a worrying increase in daily cases, including those of the Omicron variant.
A 10 pm – 5 am night curfew has been ordered, following in the footsteps of Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Only essential and emergency services can operate in this time.
Starting tomorrow (Monday), schools, colleges and universities in Bengal will be closed, as will swimming pools, gyms, spas and beauty salons, and wellness centres.
“Government and private offices can work at 50 per cent capacity, with all administrative meetings to be conducted virtually,” Bengal Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi said.
Work from home will be encouraged as much as possible.
Kolkata Metro services and local trains will also be capped at 50 per cent capacity, and the latter can run only till 7 pm. Long-distance trains, however, will be allowed to run normally.
Cinema halls, restaurants and bars can function at 50 per cent capacity and up to 10 pm. Shopping malls can stay open from 10 am to 5 pm, but crowds must be at 50 per cent.
Attendance at gatherings for marriages and other social, religious and cultural occasions will be limited to 50 persons, while those for funerals or burials will be limited to 20.
The state reported 4,512 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, which takes its active caseload to 13,300 – the third-highest in the country after Maharashtra and Kerala.
Bengal has also reported 20 cases of the more infectious Omicron variant, the rapid spread of which has triggered alarm bells across the world and in India.
Concern over the steady increase in Covid cases in the country led the centre to write to all states and UTs yesterday, to urge them to upgrade existing medical infrastructure.
They were also asked to form special teams to monitor patients in home isolation.
Data shared by the Union Health Ministry showed thickly populated cities like Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai were experiencing the sharpest increase in daily new cases.