KOLKATA: The Kolkata Airport authorities on Thursday (July 30, 2020) said that all flight operations will remain suspended on lockdown days in West Bengal. Through its official Twitter handle, the Kolkata Airport informed that “flight operations at Kolkata Airport will remain suspended on following lockdown days as announced by West Bengal government: 5th, 8th, 16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th & 31st August 2020.’’

It also urged the passengers to contact the concerned airlines for changes in flight schedules.

It may be noted that the state government had on Wednesday written a letter to the Centre urging it to suspend all flight operations in the state on days of complete lockdown in August due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

In his letter to Civil Aviation Secretary PS Kharola, state Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay asked for a halt of flight operations on - August 5, August 8, August 16-17, August 23-24 and August 31.

The letter also added that there will be no complete lockdown on August 2 and August 9. The official letter stated, "I am now directed to inform you that on August 2, and 9, 2020 there shall be no complete lockdown in West Bengal. and, as such, there will now be complete lockdown only on the following days: 1) 05-08-20, 2) 08-08-20, 3) 16-08-20, 4) 17-08-20, 5) 23-08-20, 6) 24-08-20, and 7) 31-08-20. The request for stopping all flight operations on these days in West Bengal is reiterated."

The normal life across West Bengal was crippled on Wednesday amid the 24-hour complete lockdown, the third within a week, which saw over 4,500 people being arrested for breaching anti-COVID-19 guidelines.

Officials said a total of 4,664 people were arrested from across the state, including 1,094 in Kolkata alone, for violating the anti-COVID guidelines and precautions aimed at breaking the transmission chain of the surging infection.

Wednesday's lockdown was part of the state government's plan to implement two lockdowns every week and similar exercises were carried out in the state on July 23 and 25.

The government had earlier admitted community transmission of COVID-19 in the state. All public transports, government and private offices, banks and other commercial establishments, barring those dealing with essential services, remained closed on Wednesday.

Medicine shops and health establishments were open as they were kept outside the purview of the complete lockdown. Petrol pumps too were allowed to function. Flight operations at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here were suspended following a request by the state government to the Civil Aviation Ministry.

Long-distance trains too were rescheduled due to the lockdown.

Police patrolled all major traffic intersections in the metropolis to keep a check on people venturing out of their homes without any valid reason. Special police teams were seen patrolling various parts of the city, particularly in containment zones.

In several places, police were seen even punishing the lockdown violators by making them do squat, while barricades were put up in various parts of the state. Schools, colleges and other educational institutes have remained closed in the state since late March when the first phase of the nation-wide lockdown started.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Tuesday said the decision on biweekly total lockdown till August end was taken after consulting experts to check the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the state.

Total lockdown will be in place on August 5, 8, 16, 17, 23, 24 and 31, she had said.