Total lockdown in containment zones
The Bengal government has decided to enforce complete lockdown in containment zones across the state from 5pm on July 9 (Thursday) to remind the people that they should not let their guard down at a time Covid-19 cases are rising.
The definition of containment zones is being widened to include buffer zones so that a broader area will be covered by the stricter rules.
According to an order issued by home secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay on Tuesday, the following activities will not be allowed for an unspecified period from 5pm on Thursday in the containment zones, which are yet to be publicly identified:
⚫ All offices, government and private
⚫ All non-essential activities
⚫ All congregations
⚫ All transportation
⚫ All markets/industrial/trading activities
“This means, nothing will be allowed to remain open in the containment zones. From shops to markets, from offices to religious places, everything will remain closed till further orders,” a senior government official said, adding that only emergency services like health care would be allowed in these areas.
The entry and exit of people in the containment zones will be “strictly regulated”, according to the government order. The residents of the containment zones will not be required, nor allowed, to attend office.
However, exemptions are expected for those working in the essential services segments. “The rules are expected to be the same as they were when complete lockdown was in place in several containment zones earlier. The primary objective behind the latest order is to remind the people that no laxity can be afforded now,” a senior official said on Tuesday night.
The containment zones are to be notified on the Bengal government’s official website — www. wb.gov.in or Egiye Bangla — and the websites of the respective districts on Wednesday evening.
“To the extent practicable, local authorities will try to arrange home delivery to the residents staying inside the broad-based containment zones,” according to the home secretary’s letter addressed to the Bengal police DG and IGP, the commissioner of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, the Calcutta police commissioner and all district magistrates.
In Calcutta, the municipal corporation and the police will together delineate the containment zones. In the districts, the respective district magistrates will identify the containment zones in consultation with the police commissioners or superintendents concerned.
The home secretary’s letter has made it clear that the new containment zones will be larger.
“The current concept of containment zones may be combined with the current concept of buffer zone, and together, they may constitute a revised and broad-based containment zone approach…. You may now delineate your broad-based containment zones,” the order said.
Of late, the state government had been declaring as a containment zone only those areas where several Covid-19 cases have been reported. A multi-storey building with several cases, or a small area covering a cluster of houses where cases have been reported, would be a containment zone. The buffer zone would be a wider area that the local authorities decide considering factors such as population density.
Recently, the state government had decided that if a single case is reported, that particular flat or house would be treated as an isolation unit whose residents would not be allowed to step out and where sanitisation measures would be undertaken.
The introduction of the isolation unit concept brought down the number of containment zones in Calcutta to 18 from above 1,800. The number of isolation units was 1,872.
“But now, the containment zones will be larger — maybe a large portion of a police station area in Calcutta where a number of positive cases have been reported. In case of the districts, major portions of a municipality might come under a containment zone,” a senior official said.
Over the past three days, Bengal has witnessed 800-plus intra-day increases in cases. Over 20 people have died in each of the three days, with Calcutta and North 24-Parganas the worst affected.
The official welcomed the decision, adding: “A similar step had been planned in April, but the state government had stepped back from implementing the tough measures in view of the inconvenience it could cause to people.”