West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday took stock of the COVID-19 situation in the state, shortly after her swearing-in ceremony, and announced fresh curbs to combat the spread of COVID-19, including suspension of local train services.
Banerjee, following a high-level meeting with top officials, said that metro rail and state transport services will be curtailed by 50 per cent from Thursday, as part of the newly imposed set of restrictions.
"We are not taking a decision to impose total lockdown but going for options where gatherings will not take place. These steps will not affect the economy and the poor people will not face difficulties but we will be able to combat Covid-19," Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.
"Local trains will be suspended from tomorrow. State-run transport and metro services will be reduced by 50 per cent.
"Starting May 7, air passengers will be allowed in Bengal only if they carry RT-PCR negative report, which is not older than 72 hours prior to boarding," she added.
The local trains would be suspended for the next two weeks, the state government later said in an order.
The CM further underlined that people entering the state via long-distance trains and inter-state buses should also carry RT-PCR negative reports with them.
"In case any passenger is found to have landed in West Bengal without such a test report he/she will be quarantined for 14 days at their own cost," she said.
Banks will be operational from 10 am to 2 pm, and government offices have been told to make do with 50 per cent workforce, Banerjee said at the press meet.
The state administration has also requested private firms to encourage work from home, the CM said.
"Work from home and staggering of working hours must be encouraged by all establishments," she said adding that the situation will be dynamically reviewed and required changes would be made in the restriction measures accordingly.
The CM said that all the school buildings, jute mills and other premises which have been occupied by the Central Armed Police Force and other forces and used during the election period, should be thoroughly sanitised.
"Jewellery shops will be allowed to remain open only during noon till 3 pm from Monday to Friday," she said.
All shopping malls, salons, restaurants, bars, sports complexes, gyms, spas and swimming pools would continue to remain closed for the time being, Banerjee said, adding that the online services and home delivery services would be allowed and encouraged.
"All public gatherings, including social, political, academic, entertainment related gatherings of up to 50 persons only with physical distancing may be permitted with prior permission of local authorities," she added.
Banerjee urged all to mandatorily wear masks 'or else the administration will have to take strict measures'.
The second wave of the deadly virus continues to wreak havoc in the West Bengal.
On Wednesday, the state registered its highest single-day spike of 18,102 COVID cases pushing the tally to 9,16,635.
The death toll went up to 11,847 after 103 fatalities due to the deadly virus were recorded in the state, the health department bulletin said.
West Bengal has three days back concluded a prolonged assembly elections.