Supreme Court orders Opening all Malls, Shops to remain Open on Weekends

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Heading the five-judge bench on a suo moto case on Coronavirus, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, today gave verdict to open all malls across the country from today. The Supreme Court earlier took a suo moto notice on government’s response to Covid-19 in Pakistan.

The five-judge bench included CJP Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Umar Bandial, Justice Mazhar Alam, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin. The Ministry of Health with National Institute of Health (NIH) submitted their reports on various actions taken by government including phase wise opening of economy. Moreover, commissioners from each province presented details for current government policies in their respective province.

Today, after resuming the bench, CJP Gulzar Ahmed ordered opening of all shopping malls and plazas across the country as well as opening of markets on Saturday and Sunday as well. The report by NIH clarified that places with heavy crowds such as shopping malls, plazas, wedding halls and public transport will remain closed till 31st May while shops in open market will remain open on Weekdays from Monday to Thursday. However, CJP remarked sarcastically, “Has pandemic promised government to not spread on weekends or the governments gets tired on Saturday and Sundays or sun rises from the west on weekend?”

CJP in today’s hearing criticized Sindh government’s decision to seal markets and hinder small businesses from operating. The court ordered Commissioner Karachi to open all sealed markets and apply strict SOPs in all markets by proper law enforcement. The court also highlighted issue of bribery when it comes to Sindh police and ordered commissioner Karachi to observe Police performance during implementation of SOPs.

Packages Mall, Emporium Mall open for shopping in Lahore

The government of Punjab allowed opening of shopping malls and markets from Monday 18th May in latest SOPs issued. The Packages Mall and Emporium Mall among others are biggest malls in Lahore and they are open from today with full preparation for dealing with coronavirus.

Unlike Sindh government, Punjab and KPK formulated different policies regarding public places, shopping malls and public transport. The shopping malls and plazas are advised to observe full adherence to SOPs issued by the government for public and staff safety.

Read More: SOPs in Sindh and Punjab

The coronavirus cases in Pakistan have reached around 42,000 today. With public’s disregard for personal and public safety, we can expect huge crowds in shopping places. Unlike open markets, shopping malls are expected to follow the SOPs better than small shops. However, it is up to the public as well to equip themselves with protective gear at all times during shopping and observe hand hygiene to avoid turning this ease in lock down in to a nightmare for healthcare system.

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