COVID-19 free areas in Bengal: standalone shops selling stationary, books, tea, hardware etc, basic transport to start from Monday, says Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that some standalone shops will open from Monday in green zones — which are free from Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Containment areas will, however, continue to be under total lockdown, Banerjee said.

Private buses will be allowed to carry a maximum of 20 passengers in the districts where no cases have been reported for a while. No inter-district movement will be allowed however. Buses will be sterilized regularly and masks must be used by drivers and conductors. Private taxis will be allowed to run with three passengers. The state transport department and police will work out the details, Banerjee said.

Eateries are being allowed to do home delivery but they can’t open for public. Standalone shops of electronic and stationary items, book, paints, mobile recharge, laundry, hardware, tea stalls and pan shops will remain open.

Banerjee clarified that tea and paan shops will be allowed to open in these areas, but “no adda will be allowed”. “Just have your tea and leave, or take the tea and go home and drink,” she said. “Social distancing must be followed everywhere,” the CM said.

Salons will remain closed, and the Centre had given specific instructions on this, she said.

The lockdown will continue selectively in some areas based on the seriousness of COVID-19 situation, Banerjee said. Experts have advised her to continue with some restrictions till the end of May, she added. Hawkers won’t be allowed to open their shops right now. Market complexes too will remain closed.

Local police and administration will decide on which shops could be allowed to open after area-specific surveys.

Construction work and factories will be allowed in green zones, but social distancing and health protocols have to be maintained. The permission may be revoked if the guidelines are not followed.

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