Coronavirus Related Restrictions Imposed In Major Cities

On Monday, the federal government decided to bring back a handful of coronavirus-related restrictions in the country, in light of the ongoing fourth wave. The most recent wave has turned dangerous, and the single-day tally of newly recorded cases has also come close to 5,000. In addition, the national positivity rate has gone up to 8.61%, alarming the relevant authorities. 

After taking note of the rising number of infections in the country, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), which is the nerve center of the anti-pandemic strategy of the government, decided to bring back a couple of restrictions in some cities for a time span of one month. These restrictions will be re-implemented from Tuesday onwards and stay till the 31st of August. 

The revised guidelines were announced by the Chief of NCOC, and the Federal Minister for Planning, Asad Umar. He said that the government has decided to take staggered and targeted decisions to ensure that there is no further rise in the number of infections, which are mainly being fueled by the ultra-infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus. 

The NCOC took approval from the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, before making the announcement. Umar stated that in all the major cities of Pakistan, the official attendance has now been reduced to 50% and the market hours have once again been cut down. The Minister was joined by Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health when he disclosed these details in the press conference. 

According to Umar, these restrictions will be imposed in several cities, which will include Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Abbottabad, Peshawar, Karachi, Mirpur, Skardu, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, and Hyderabad. He added that the government of Sindh has already imposed a smart lockdown in the City of Lights and Hyderabad till the August of 8th. He revealed that once the lockdown lifts on the 9th of August, these measures decided by the federal government will then be applied there as well. 

As per these restrictions, markets will only be permitted to remain open till 8pm in these specific cities. Previously, they had been allowed to operate till 10pm. In addition, offices will have two days off, instead of one. The decision to choose the off days was left upon the provincial governments. 

Umar revealed that the government has decided to withdraw the permission that was previously granted to restaurants to allow indoor dining to vaccinated people. He said that due to weak compliance being witnessed, this allowance was now revoked. Furthermore, outdoor dining could continue until 10pm, whereas take-away service could operate until midnight. 

The planning minister talked about offices as well, saying that for the month of August, 50% attendance will be permitted in all private and public offices. The remaining employees will have to work from home. 

The NCOC Chief revealed that the Prime Minister has been completely against the implementation of a complete lockdown in the country, ever since the pandemic first surfaced. Therefore, he added, the government came up with the idea of smart lockdowns, which have proven to be successful in the last three waves of the novel coronavirus.