Bengal has declared total state-wide lockdowns on September 7, 11 and 12. The revised guidelines, however, will not come in the way of the August 31 total state-wide lockdown.
On Wednesday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced the three September lockdowns after a state cabinet meeting, indicating the state would “review the situation” before September 20 and decide whether to extend the complete lockdowns for the whole of September. The Covid advisory committee had advised the state on the need to continue with the total lockdown format in Bengal, which is also been done in other high-Covid prevalence states, to “break the chain of infection”.
Banerjee had also indicated that the cabinet had considered September 3 and 4 as total lockdown days but decided against it over the continuing uncertainty over JEE (Mains) scheduled between September 1 and 6. Bengal has 37,973 JEE candidates.
Senior officials indicated that the Centre had been informed that the total lockdowns in Bengal had helped control the disease spread.
While the state has reported 87,008 new Covid cases in the period between August 1 and August 30, active Covid cases increased by only 5,026 in the same period. The state’s discharge rate of 81.9% is also higher than the national rate of 76.6%. In August, Bengal’s Covid fatality rate also dropped below 2% for the first time, recording 1.9% on Sunday. On August 1, it was 2.2%. “There is a need to continue with the total lockdowns,” a senior official said, adding, “The state’s July 30 lockdown circular, detailing the exemptions, ends on August 31 and has to be reissued latest by Monday.”
Senior officials indicated that the Centre’s clarification was also needed for the advisory that says, “There shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/approval/e-permit will be required for such movements.” The state wants to understand whether this extended to all modes of travel, even trains and flights. Bengal has proposed a three-day-week flight schedule from six hotspot cities and allows only special trains.
The state has also sought clarity on the issue of granting permission for functions and gatherings from September 21 with a cap of 100 persons. According to the order, from September 21, the Centre has permitted all gatherings — social, academic, sports, cultural, entertainment, religious, political functions and congregations — with not more than 100 persons. “This needs to be more specific,” an official said. “Bengal has allowed social functions with only 50 guests. For example, several examinations are being held with more than 100 candidates. There also needs to be a clarification on indoor and outdoor activities for sports, cultural and entertainment events. To what extent can the state regulate these?”