The West Bengal government has announced changes in the dates for the complete lockdown dates in August for the fourth time, removing all Sundays from the purview of the restriction to check the spread of the contagion in the state.
As per the new changes the lockdown will now be enforced on August 20 and 21 and August 27 and 28, instead of August 16, 17, 23 and 24 as announced earlier, the government order said.
The other lockdown dates - August 5, 8 and 31 -- remain unchanged.
This for the fourth time the state government has changed the dates. On July 28 the state government had thrice altered the dates.
The state government had on July 28 withdrawn the complete lockdown on August 2 and 9 and brought down the number of lockdown days from nine to seven.
The step had then been taken after receiving requests from different communities since the dates coincided with festivals, officials had said.
This time too requests and appeals have been received from different quarters to relax the lockdown on certain dates as they are coinciding with some festivals and days marked for the observance of local customs.
The order issued by state chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said "We have taken this decision to partially modify the order keeping in view of the requests received and in due consideration of the public sentiment."
In the fresh order, the state government has withdrawn lockdowns on Sundays as proposed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The change of lockdown dates elicited sharp reactions from the opposition parties which criticised the ruling TMC, alleging that it is completely clueless and has failed to manage the crisis arising out of COVID-19.
"The state government has not only failed but is also clueless about the way forward. The state government could change the dates, but it didn't yield to our request to change the date of August 5 the day of bhoomi pujan at Ayodhya for the construction of the Ram Mandir," BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said.
The state BJP has asked the state government to shift the date as it did for the Eid festival.
CPI(M) legislature party leader Sujan Chakraborty said the chief minister and her government had turned the idea of the lockdown into a "farce".
"We don't know whether the TMC government is running an administration or a circus," he said.
West Bengal has so far reported 78,232 cases of COVID-19. There are 1,234 containment zones in the state at present.