The government is going to extend the current restrictions on travelling and outdoor activities for another week and the authorities will be even stricter in enforcing the restrictions, sources in the cabinet division said.
Officials will specify the shops that actually sell daily essentials and let them stay open while law enforcers will increase their vigil in the alleys, where people have been out and about as usual, they said.
The country is witnessing a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths from the disease despite the restrictions that have been in force since April 5, they said.
A meeting with Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam in the chair is scheduled to be held today to outline these steps and a circular will be issued upon the prime minister's approval, they said.
"The current lockdown is likely to be extended for another week. The decision may be announced in a day or two. Tomorrow's [today] meeting of secretaries may make the decision," Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzak told The Daily Star.
The country went through the 14th day of restrictions yesterday, when the highest, 102 confirmed deaths due to Covid-19, was reported.
Although all public and private offices remained shuttered and public transport suspended, emergency services, factories, and a few branches of banks continued their operations.
While the main streets have been relatively empty, the alleys remained crowded as many shops other than those selling groceries and drugs remained open with half-closed shutters.
"In the given situation, the government is considering... implementing the restrictions through stricter measures," a senior cabinet division official told The Daily Star yesterday, wishing not to be named.
However, an "inner circle" within the government is discussing the likelihood of the restrictions being extended until after the Eid.
Throughout the current restrictions, the presence of law enforcers were visible on the main streets in the city and beyond, but very few of them were seen in alleyways.
"The alleys would be brought under stricter vigilance," the cabinet division official said, adding that all these decisions depended on the prime minister's approval.
On April 4, the Cabinet Division issued an 11-point directive with a set of restrictions effective from 6:00am on April 5 to 12:00am on April 11 to contain the spread of coronavirus. It said violators of the directives would be punished.
Different offices, mills and factories were exempt from the restrictions and the government allowed resumption of bus services within the 11 cities from April 7.
On April 8, the government announced that shops and malls could be open for eight hours from April 9 to April 13 despite concerns from health experts.
Large numbers of people were seen on the streets buying goods and going to offices and businesses. Many began hanging out at tea-stalls in their neighbourhoods. Very few steps were taken to enforce the restrictions.
The government later extended the restrictions until 6:00am on April 14.
As the experts doubted whether the half-hearted enforcement of restrictions would be effective at all, the cabinet division on April 12 issued a circular regarding a "strict lockdown" from 6:00am on April 14 to April 21 midnight.