FAQ: What’s Allowed in West Bengal’s Lockdown? Will It Help?
All you need to about West Bengal’s lockdown.
On 20 July, West Bengal Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay announced that the state will observe two days of complete lockdown every week, in light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
Thereafter, on 28 July, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that lockdown measures in the state will be extended to 31 August.
But, is this an effective strategy to curb the spread of the virus. Well, here's all you need to know about the weekly lockdown and the possible rationale behind it.
Which days of the week will the state be under lockdown?
According to Chief Minister Banerjee's announcement on 28 July, there was to be a complete lockdown in the state on select days of August, except on the occasion of festivals and other such holidays.
Apart from that, 29 July, Wednesday, had also been announced as a lockdown day. In August, the days of lockdown were given as 2, 5, 8, 9, 16, 17, 23, 24 and 31 August.
However, the West Bengal government’s Home Department later clarified that they were withdrawing the complete lockdown announcement for 2 and 9 August while “respecting the sentiments of the people”.
How will this lockdown help?
According to Kolkata-based epidemiologists, this intermittent lockdown will have no effect in arresting the spread of the coronavirus.
“Lockdowns do not technically curb the spread of the disease. They are basically a tool used by the government to buy time so that they can amp up their healthcare infrastructure. Additionally, if implemented for a ten-fourteen day stretch, the lockdown arrests community spread, for example, an asymptomatic person would be forced to stay in one place and not move around. Locking down the state on two random days will not serve that purpose”, said an epidemiologist on condition of anonymity.
Reacting to a similar weekend-only lockdown in Uttar Pradesh, epidemiologist, Dr Shahid Jameel, in an earlier interview, told The Quint that such a step has “no logic”.
“Is the virus active only on weekends?” Dr Jameel asked.
However, a report by the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) says that studies have shown that between a Sunday-only lockdown and say, a Sunday-Wednesday lockdown, there seems to be a higher addition to active cases in the former scenario.
What then is the purpose of the lockdown?
Experts say that the possible reasoning behind such an intermittent lockdown may be more administrative than clinical.
“The citizenry is at a place where they want everything to open up for economic reasons. However, due to a rise in cases, the government is also apprehensive of complete opening-up. This is probably why, to maintain a balance, such a step was taken. This is also a psychological reminder for the people that the virus is still around and everything is not ‘back to normal’,” said an epidemiologist.
What is the extent of this weekly lockdown?
This is a statewide, complete lockdown which means that venturing out for anything except essential services is prohibited. The weekly lockdown is applicable across the state, and not just in containment zones.
What are the movement restrictions during the days of the lockdown?
All forms of public transportation will be closed on these days. You are also not allowed to venture out in your own private vehicle unless it is for medical purposes. There is no guideline yet on rail and air travel but flights to West Bengal from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Nagpur, and Ahmedabad have been stopped till 31 July.
Further, it has been announced that flights and trains will not be plying on the days of the weekly lockdown in July and August.
Is inter-state or intra-state travel allowed?
The government will also not allow inter-state travel to and from West Bengal during the days of lockdown. However, those travelling for emergency or medical reasons will be allowed to cross the border. Inter-district travel is also not allowed. All inter-district buses will remain suspended on the days of the lockdown.
Will offices be allowed to open?
The government has announced that all offices, including government offices, will remain shut on the day of the lockdown. However, offices related to medical services like hospitals will be open.
Are there any other restrictions that the government has announced?
In its recent phase of new COVID-19 measures, the government has also announced that all banks will remain open only on weekdays and will be shut on weekend. Further customer service will only be allowed from 10 am to 2pm.
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