Govt: Public holiday meant for curbing coronavirus, not enjoyment

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All the essential services of government offices will remain open, says the prime minister’s principal secretary

The government has issued a warning for people who are using the public holiday declared by the government amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country as an opportunity to go to their hometowns or for going out of their house unnecessarily.

“This holiday is meant for curbing coronavirus, not enjoyment,” said the prime minister’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus on Tuesday at a press briefing at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Asking people to stay inside their house as per government directives, the secretary said government holiday was declared as per the prime minister’s orders to curb the spread of coronavirus.

He simultaneously asked the public and private officials not to leave their workstations as the general holidays from March 26 to April 4 have been announced to facilitate all to stay at home instead of enjoying the holidays.

“The holidays are not given for enjoyment rather to stay at home to check the spread of coronavirus. All the government and private officers and employees would have to stay at home during the holidays,” Kaikaus added.

He asked people if they have to go out in case of emergency, then they should use proper sanitization and take preventive measures accordingly.

“Stay in your home, prevent coronavirus,” the government official said, adding that Bangladesh government is following this policy like the rest of the world.

One of the 10 directives regarding the public holiday issued by the government on Monday had said that if a person from a low income group is unable to maintain their regular livelihood due to the crisis, they can return to their respective natal villages or towns and stay there under the government’s “Ghore Fera” (Returning Home) programs.

The deputy commissioners (DCs) of the respective districts would help them in the process.

The government is also expecting to open Bhashan Char – ready to accommodate 100,000 people – if any person from a low income group wants to move there. The DCs have already received necessary instructions in this regard.

DCs have also been asked to provide food and financial assistance to people from low income groups already living in rural areas, if they cannot make a living during the public holiday. The DCs will coordinate with the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief to implement this program.

Mentioning that the government has slapped a ban on movement of public transport including trains, buses and launch vessels, Kaikaus on Tuesday also said: “You please don’t leave your stations. We’re requesting those who have already left not to go outside their homes.”

He also said all the essential services of government offices will remain open.

Stressing that maintaining social distancing is very important to prevent infection of Covid-19, he asked everyone to keep at least three-feet distance from others. 

He said kitchen markets, food and medicine shops, hospitals and other emergency services will remain open during the period.

PM’ Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim was present at the briefing.

So far, 39 people have been detected with Covid-19 infection and four people died from being infected with the virus in Bangladesh, according to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).