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Unlocking strategy: Eateries can reopen if staff is inoculated, says Mamata Banerjee

The government is also thinking of allowing shopping malls to open with 25 per cent of the workforce after June 15, she said.

With the number of active cases falling to 61,000 and a significant drop in the number of daily new cases in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said that restaurants and eateries can be allowed to open for three hours in the evening with 50 per cent occupancy, provided that people working there are vaccinated and the Covid health protocols are strictly followed.

The chief minister said this after meeting representatives of business chambers at Nabanna. She, however, did not specify when the eateries will be allowed to open. In the meeting, people associated with the tourism industry had urged the chief minister to allow partial opening of restaurants.

“The Covid-19 situation is improving in the state following the imposition of restrictions. Restaurants can open for three hours in the evening from 5 pm to 8 pm, provided people working there are vaccinated and the workers strictly follow safety protocols. The restaurants can’t have more than 50 per cent occupancy at any time,”Banerjee said.

She told representatives of the tourism and hotel sector to get their workers vaccinated as early as possible. “If you are facing problems in procurement of vaccines, then give us money. The government will procure vaccines for you or accelerate the process of procurement,” the CM said.

On the opening of the tourism sector, she said that a thorough discussion with hotel and transport associations is required before any decision is made. “We have to see how we can assist them. We cannot take any chances,” the chief minister said.

The government is also thinking of allowing shopping malls to open with 25 per cent of the workforce after June 15, she said.

The government had extended restrictions till June 15 last week. The government has plans to allow retail shops to keep open for one more hour till 4 pm after June 15, the chief minister said.

At the moment, market places are allowed to do business from 7 am to 10 am while retail shops and outlets selling saree and jewellery can operate between noon and 3 pm.

Meanwhile, the chief minister ordered health officials to give prioritise vaccination of domestic helps in the same way it has planned to inoculate hawkers, bus conductors, vendors and others.

Altogether 1.4 crore of people in West Bengal have been inoculated so far, she said.

“We have been vaccinating 60-70 thousand people every day. The government cannot single-handedly vaccinate everyone. I will urge you to come forward and help us to inoculate people,” the chief minister told the business chambers.

The CM, who also holds the health portfolio, said that the attention would be given to inoculate people working in rice, wheat and flour mills as well as those employed in the brick kiln sector.

The central government has provided only 17 lakh vaccines while her government had sought three crore, she said. Banerjee also sought the help of the business chambers in relief works in districts ravaged by Cyclone Yaas.

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