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Bangladesh - August 9, 2021

Who cares lockdown?

Staff Correspondent: There are not many signs of restraint in Dhaka on the seventeenth day of the lockdown imposed to curb the COVID pandemic.
Traffic and crowds seem to have largely returned to business as usual, though law enforcers are occasionally checking vehicles on certain roads.
But no one is holding mask-less pedestrians to account or asking why people are taking rickshaws.
According to the police, who issue a statement on the number of detentions and arrests made in the Dhaka Metropolitan Area each day, law enforcers detained 342 for going outside without ‘sufficient cause’ and fined 171.
Compared to the sheer number of people out and about in Dhaka, these numbers are negligible.
Though there is some law-enforcement presence on main thoroughfares in the capital, there is little attention given to streets, side roads and alleys, which seem to be humming as usual.
All this, despite the fact that the COVID pandemic situation is at its worst since the disease was first discovered in Bangladesh in March 2020. Amid rising cases and deaths, the government-imposed lockdown restrictions on Jul 1, but eased the curbs for nine days around Eid-ul-Azha at the advice of experts.
After the Eid break, the lockdown was reimposed on Jul 23 and restrictions were later extended to Aug 10. Despite these attempts, the number of cases and deaths have continued to rise, hitting new records in recent weeks.
And now, the number of people on the streets seems to grow each day as people begin ignoring restrictions in an attempt to scrape together a livelihood.
Traffic is heavier now, as it has been for the past few days. Local stores are open as usual.
The fish market at Azimpur’sChapra Mosque area was overflowing with customers on Saturday morning.
Cars and rickshaws are crowding the streets and even some of the main roads.
There is no shortage of pedestrians either. And many of them have their masks pulled down to their chins.
Four of the eight lanes on the roads at the Azimpur intersection were closed during the lockdown, but have been reopened again.
Asked about the matter, SI Delowar Hossain of the Azimpur Police Outpost said that bamboo barricades had been set up on four lanes to restrict traffic, but they had been removed by unknown persons overnight.
But SI Delowar maintained that police are still on the alert and are taking action against those violating lockdown rules.
Stores have reopened in Old Dhaka with clothing stores, laundries and hardware stores operating alongside shops selling necessities. Many restaurants are offering dine-in services.

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