West Bengal government is considering to lift a few more restrictions from 16 June in view of an improvement in the Covid situation in the state with a dip in daily cases and death toll. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has recently said that the Covid infection rate has come down in Bengal due to the current restrictions.

The case count was around 21,000 when the restrictions were imposed in mid-May and the figure has now come down to 5,000. The chief minister has already announced that hotels and restaurants will be allowed to function from 5 to 8 pm after all employees are vaccinated. Next, considerations are on to allow shopping malls to open with 25 per cent occupancy from 16 June.

Infact the state government has taken up a comprehensive plan for vaccinating people by identifying them as super-spreaders. Thus, hawkers, vegetable and fish sellers, transport workers and red light area people are being inoculated first. Domestic workers and handloom weavers would now be vaccinated.

Along with this, the state government has urged the chambers of commerce to vaccinate their members. “We want to ensure the health of the super spreaders who are in contact with many people so we want to vaccinate them at a fast pace,” said a senior official. State government has already started providing some relaxations.

For instance, grocery shops that were initially allowed to remain open from 10 am to 12 pm were later allowed to operate from 12 to 3 pm and then the duration was extended by another one hour.

“The restrictions are being continuously revised and relaxations are being offered as and when required. We do not want to reopen everything at a single go as it might increase the rate of infection. We are thus handling the situation in a slow and steady manner,” added the official.

According to state government officials the most challenging part will be to allow the transportation system to function normally. “The state government has kept the operation of buses, metros and suburban trains suspended and this is creating hindrance for the people to reach their workplaces. It is true that opening up of the transport system in an unplanned way would lead to spreading of the disease again so it has been our foremost challenge to allow the transport system to function but to restrict people from coming in close contact with others,” a senior official of the state government said.

According to Nabanna sources, government officials are negotiating with the train and metro officials and the bus operators’ authorities to formulate a mechanism to open up the transport system in the state. “The train and bus services will have to resume but we are not going to do it hastily. We will consider all the aspects carefully before taking any kind of final decision,” a senior official said.