The federal government under PM Imran Khan, announced a step wise ease in lock down in Pakistan effective from Monday May 11th. The decision came as National Coordination Committee (NCC) with consultation from all provinces and federal government decided to ease lock down in Pakistan in a phases. In first phase, government has extended the lock down till May 31st with new exceptions given to certain businesses.
The decision has been received with great anger and criticism all over the country as Covid-19 cases surge to 30,000 and deaths rise to around 700. While Pakistan is still reaching its peak, the ease in lock down at such time seems to be a huge mistake. However, PM Imran Khan highlighted several factors that supports his notion of smart lock down. For once, Imran Khan took an unambiguous decision that Pakistan cannot afford closure of businesses anymore. Federal government has been backing up its decision with evidences from developed countries where lock down has failed to stop the spread of virus.
Confusion among provinces regarding lock down
Despite the NCC’s claims of a unified decisions, all provinces specifically Punjab and Sindh have come up with their own approaches towards easing lockdown. In Punjab, Lahore has become the epicenter of coronavirus while in Sindh, Karachi’s cases have exceeded more than 70% of province’s cases.
For past three days, media has been showing varying news regarding new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all provinces that has still created a lot of confusion among the public. Here are the official SOPs from Government of Punjab and Sindh that will be enforced in respective provinces.
SOPs for Punjab
Following are the official instructions and SOPs for ease in lockdown till 31st May in Punjab under the new announcement.
- All schools and educational institutes will remain close in Punjab as is done across the country.
- All large shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, marquees, marriage halls, cinemas will remain closed.
- Phase II of construction sector including supporting businesses like steel, PVC pipes, electrical appliances and electricians, ceramic, aluminum, sanitary, hardware store, paint industries will start operating from 11th May. These shops will be allowed to operate 4 days a week with strict lockdown on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- Export Industry is allowed to start operations under strict SOPs which will be issued by Punjab Government separately under Industrial SOPs.
- Hair Salons and Barber Shops are also allowed to open with strict SOPs.
- Grocery stores, general stores, bakeries, atta chakkis, milk/dairy shops, chicken, meat and fish shops, animal farms and auto shops are allowed to operate from 8 am to 5 pm 7 days a week.
- Tyre shops, petrol pumps, spare parts, oil depots are allowed to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Postal and courier services can resume operations with operating time of 9am to 5 pm, 7 days a week.
- Qingqi and Rikshaw services can continue operations.
The decision for transport sector including public buses and railways has not been taken yet.
Punjab government has also launched web portal and app to identify Covid-19 patients and available beds in hospitals for potential patients.
SOPs for Sindh
Following are main points of SOPs in Sindh including Karachi.
- All industries not cleared for operating, shopping malls, cinemas, educational Institutes, private offices not cleared for operating, marriage halls, marquees, public processions, sports events, concerts, restaurants, hotels, social clubs, entertainment areas, beaches, public parks, and public transport shall remain closed under strict lock down.
- All construction related shops and industries including Pipe mills, electrical cables, switch gear manufacturing, steel, aluminum manufacturing mills, paint functions, carpenters, real estate, retail shops related to manufacturing industry will remain open from 8 am to 4 pm Monday to Thursday.
- Community markets, retail outlets, standalone neighborhood shops shall remain open from 8 am to 4 pm, four days a week.
- Barber shops and beauty parlors will remain closed until further notice.
- Game centers, Video game centers, Pool game shops, and Sit-in eateries will remain closed.
- Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays will be considered 100% lock down days where all movements will be ceased except for essential buying and jobs. Essential stores like pharmaceutical, bakery, grocery, meat and chicken shops, and milk and tandoor shops will open from 8 am to 5 pm.
- During 100% lock down, persons needing medical assistance, personnel of law enforcement, health care workers and allied staff, charity organizations, utility corporation staff such as workers for electricity, gas, sewerage and municipal will be allowed to move around for work.
Apart from the above guidelines, Sindh government has also released a detailed SOP for corporations to behave responsibly after opening of businesses and follow General SOPs issues by government. Any company or personnel violating the SOPs in Sindh will be dealt with penalties under Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act, 2014.