The government announced public holidays from March 29 to April 2, the deployment of army personnel, limiting the public gatherings and mass transports to check the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country. The 5-day general holidays will, however, automatically turn into a 10-day vacation because they coincide with the public holiday on the occasion of the Independence Day on March 26 and the weekends on March 27-28 and April 3-4.
The public holidays will apply to offices and establishments excepting those providing emergency services, said cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam while announcing the measures. He said that all mass gatherings — social, political and religious — were also banned due to the prevailing situation. The cabinet secretary said that the army would be deployed in aid of the civil administration in all the divisional cities and district towns to ensure social distancing that according to him was the top most priority of the government now.
The government is set to roll out a massive rescue package for the low-income group, businesses and industries, all of whom are bearing the brunt of the near-collapse economic activities brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The prime minister would outline what steps the government would be taking during her address to the nation on March 25, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said.
The deputy commissioners would oversee the task of selling rice at discounted prices through 0the open market sale (OMS) while the Army would cooperate. The affected businesses would be compensated; but the modalities are yet to be worked out, Kamal said. Loans would carry no interest during this difficult time. Besides, the repayment period for the loans would be extended. As part of the efforts to alleviate the economic pains confronting the lower income groups, including day-labourers, rickshaw-pullers and street vendors, the government plans to sell rice at Tk 5 per kg through the OMS across the country, down from Tk 30 a kg at present.
Work order cancellations by international retailers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have cost Bangladesh's garment sector $1.98 billion in revenues as of March 23, exporters said. The total value of the work orders that were called off stood at $1.51 billion just the day before. Work orders for some 634.8 million pieces of garment items have been cancelled, that too in just 729 registered garment factories, according to statistics from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
"The situation is worsening. Letters requesting the termination of previously placed orders are coming to us every day," BGMEA President Rubana Huq said. .Although buyers are either cancelling or delaying their work orders on a daily basis, wage payments to workers will be made on time, she said. But evidence was already starting to emerge of garment workers being laid off by factories.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia will be released from jail for six months suspending her sentences upon two conditions, said Law Minister Anisul Huq. He came up with the announcement at a press conference at his Gulshan office. The conditions for her are receiving treatment staying at her Gulshan residence and not leaving the country.
The Law Minister said they took the decision at the directive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina considering her age and humanitarian ground. He said Khaleda Zia’s family recently submitted an application to the government seeking an executive order to have the BNP chief released for her treatment in London. Later, Annisul said said Khaleda’s brother Shamim Eskandar, her sister Selima Islam, and her husband Dr Rafiqul Islam met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and made an appeal for her release through the executive order. Under the circumstances, he said, the former prime minister’s sentences have been suspended as per section 401 of Criminal Code of Procedure (CrPcC).