The West Bengal government today ordered the closure of all shopping malls, restaurants and fixed restricted timings for markets along with a host of other restrictions that were imposed in an attempt to combat the rapid surge in Covid cases for the past few days.

Essential services and home deliveries would be permitted. A notification in this regard was issued by state chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay. The restrictions will be in force with immediate effect and continue till further orders.

The development came as West Bengal registered a fresh record of 17,411 new Covid-19 cases and 96 deaths today. Kolkata recorded 3,924 cases and 28 deaths while North 24- Parganas recorded 3,932 fresh cases and 20 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total Covid case count is 8,28,366, with the death toll standing at 11,344 while there are 1,13,624 active cases.

Bazaars or haats will remain open from 7 to 10 a.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m.. All shopping complexes, malls, beauty parlours, cinema halls, restaurants and bars, sports complexes, gyms, spas and swimming pools would remain closed.

Home deliveries shall be permitted. Along with essential services like medical shops, medical equipment shops, groceries and other shops have been excluded from the ambit of restrictions. All social, academic, cultural and entertainment related gatherings and congregations shall remain prohibited.

With counting of votes scheduled on 2 May, the state government has come up with specific restrictions for conducting the process while adhering to the Covid protocols. All activities related to electoral counting process and victory rallies or processions will be guided by the guidelines issued by the ECI, the notification stated. It also says that unnecessary congregations in the neighbourhoods of counting halls will be discouraged.

It has to be ensured that crowding or loitering near the counting venue is averted, the government notified. In an order banning victory processions, the ECI on Tuesday said not more than two people will be allowed to accompany the winning candidate to receive their victory certificate.

“Any violation of these orders will be liable to be proceeded against as per provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005,” read the notification.