Kolkata | Jagran News Desk: The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government on Sunday imposed 'lockdown-like' curbs in the state amid fears over the Omicron variant of the deadly COVID-19 infection. Issuing fresh guidelines, the state government ordered the closure of all schools, colleges and universities in West Bengal from January 3.

The state government also said that all spas, salons, beauty parlours, zoos and entertainment parks will also stay shut while cinema halls, restaurants, bars and shopping malls have also been asked to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

All private and government offices can operate only with 50 per cent staff, the state government said in the new guidelines. It also asked the management of industries, factories, mills, tea gardens and other commercial establishments to ensure strict compliance with the guidelines.

A night curfew - from 10 pm to 5 am - has also been imposed in West Bengal during which only essential and emergency services can operate. 

The metro services, will also operate at their 50 per cent strength, the state government said, adding that local trains will only operate till 7 pm. However, it said that long-distance trains will be allowed to operate normally.

It also said that the state will operate flights from Delhi and Mumbai only twice a week which will be on Monday and Friday. This order, the West Bengal government said, will come into effect from January 5. 

It also said that no flights from the United Kingdom (UK) will be allowed in West Bengal for the time being.

In its guidelines, the West Bengal government also restricted the gatherings in marriages and said that only 50 people would be allowed to attend wedding functions. In funerals, last rites or burials, it said, only 20 people would be allowed.

West Bengal has been witnessing a spike in cases since early December. On Saturday, it reported 4,512 fresh COVID-19 cases with Kolkata accounting for 2,398 new infections, as per the state Health Department.

However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee last month had refused to impose a total lockdown and said coronavirus-related restrictions cannot be imposed everywhere as it may impact the economy. "We have to look after the safety and security of the people. We will soon make a decision. We will target places where the cases are going up. We cannot impose restrictions everywhere because that may affect the economy as it has in the last two years," she had said.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma