Kolkata, March 23 (IANS) People rushed indoor while police personnel hauled up those on the streets as a complete lockdown began in large parts of West Bengal, including the whole of Kolkata and eight districts on Monday to combat the spread of novel coronavirus infection, as the state reported its first death from the disease.
The lockdown, christened 'complete safety restrictions", covers all municipal and district towns besides some rural areas in other parts of the state from 5 p.m. on Monday.
The lockdown is set to continue till Friday midnight.
As the clock went past 5 p.m., police took over the roads, and began naka checking. They stopped every vehicle, motor bike and pedestrian, asking them why they were still outdoors, and directing them to go home.
While some people said they were returning after work, some others claimed they had an emergency. The police personnel, however, remained polite but firm, asking for papers, proof of their claims. They also warned these violators they may land in jail for six months or may have to cough up a hefty fine for the transgression.
The order issued on Sunday covering whole or part of all the 23 districts in the state, was given under the West Bengal Epidemic Disease COVID-19 regulations, 2020, framed according to relevant sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.
However, instead of lockdown, the term used in the notification was 'complete safety restriction' .
The order stipulates complete restrictions on public transport services including operation of taxis and auto-rickshaws, closure of all shops, commercial establishments, offices and factories, workshops and warehouses.
"All foreign returnees and other such persons so required by the health personnel are directed to remain under strict home quarantine for a period as directed by the local health authorities," it said.
The order issued by the Chief Secretary also asked people to stay at home and come out only for basic services while strictly following the social distancing guidelines.
The government has also prohibited congregation of more than seven persons in public places and warned that violators would be punished under section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code.
Apart from the entire Kolkata Municipal Corporation area, whole of Howrah, Birbhum, Hooghly, West Burdwan, Nadia, Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur districts have been brought under the ambit of the restrictions.
Establishments and services excluded from the restrictions are banks and ATMs, food, including public distribution system, groceries, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, bread and milk selling, e-commerce of groceries, food items and home delivery of food, petrol pump, LPG gas and media.
Health services, medicine shops, optical stores, manufacturing units engaged in production of essential commodities, telecom, internet, Information Technology and Information Technology enabled services, postal services, fire, civil defence and emergency services have also been exempted from the restrictions.
While a 57-year-old patient during the day became the first fatality in the state from the disease at a private hospital in the city, six others, including three members of a family and their maid servant have been detected with the infection in Bengal so far.