Kolkata Police is identifying roads that cyclists could use, Mamata Banerjee said (File)
On a day nine people died of COVID-19 in West Bengal and 426 new cases were logged, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that the number of guests who may attend weddings, funerals and religious events was being increased from an earlier limit of 10 to 25 from Monday.
Triggering a brief and temporary confusion, she also said the lockdown was being extended till June 30. She meant the lockdown in containment zones or affected areas where it was in place till June 15.
Ms Banerjee admitted that commuters who tried to attend office on Monday in Kolkata had a harrowing time and encouraged people to cycle to office if they can. "Kolkata Police is identifying roads that cyclists could use in the coming days," she said, adding, "Safety is the biggest concern if cyclists are riding along with heavy traffic."
"It doesn't matter if you are a little late for office. Safety is first," the Chief Minister said. "We are running 5,000 buses and autos are on the roads. But there are no local trains and the Metro is not running yet," Ms Banerjee.
There has been no indication from the Railway Ministry when services may resume. An enormous number of office goers - some say 50 per cent - come into Kolkata from the districts on suburban trains. Much like for Mumbai, the suburban trains are a lifeline. Without them, commuters are in trouble.
Social distancing went for a toss with commuters scrambling to get on buses. The government has said only seated passengers allowed but till late this evening, crowds were seen waiting at bus stops and squeezing into buses that stopped.
Auto rickshaws were earlier supposed to take only 2 passengers each. But that rule too was violated.
A popular decision announced via a circular on June 6 was repeated by Ms Banerjee on Monday at her press meet at state secretariat Nabanna. That families who have lost members to COVID-19 can now see their loved ones for half-an-hour before the body is sent for the last rites.
Earlier, families could not see their relatives for safety reason, nor attend the last rites. The body would be taken away in an all-plastic body bag. Now, new body bags will be used with a transparent face cover so family could catch a glimpse of their loved ones.
Those visiting the body for the last time will be given PPEs, masks and gloves before being allowed to do so, according to the new Standard Operating Procedure announced Saturday. Though too late for many families, the decision has been welcomed.