Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced extensive restrictions across the state today immediately after taking oath for a third straight term in power, in view of the exploding coronavirus infection. Local trains will be suspended from tomorrow and Friday onwards, those entering the state will have to show a negative Covid test report. Quarantine facilities will have to be arranged by airport authorities.
“There won’t be total lockdown. Emergency and essential services will be outside the purview of restrictions,” the Chief Minister said.
As Covid cases in the state spiked during the elections with super-spreader rallies and political meetings, Ms Banerjee had made it clear that controlling the pandemic will be her first priority after the polls are over.
At a press conference after her low-key oath ceremony today, she said she has written to PM Modi regarding the tests and vaccine situation in the state. “I have written to the Prime Minister to announce a transparent policy on Covid, oxygen and vaccines,” she said.
Incoming travellers on flights, long distance trains and inter-state buses must carry negative RT-PCR test reports, the Chief Minister said. Social and political gatherings have been banned but some social gatherings will be allowed with special permission and curb on numbers.
Both government and private sector offices will function with 50 per cent workforce and staggered timings will be observed for markets.
Stand-alone shops will remain open for three hours in the morning — from 7 am to 10 am — and two hours in the evening, 5 pm to 7 pm.
Jewellery shops will function from noon to 3 pm.
While Bengal is “managing the oxygen situation”, the state is not getting enough vaccines, she said.
“Transport workers, hawkers and journalists will get priority when it comes to vaccines,” the Chief Minister added.
On Tuesday, Bengal recorded its highest one-day spike of 17,639 cases, which took the total number of cases to 8,98,533. It also reported the highest number deaths – 107 – taking the number of fatalities to 11,744, the state health department said in a bulletin.
The state will reduce testing timelines, Ms Banerjee has assured.