The Punjab and Sindh governments on Monday issued notifications to end the lockdown in the provinces.
On the directions of National Command Operation Center (NCOC) and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare Captain (retired) Muhammad Usman issued the notification.
“With the exception of wedding halls, all business centres have been reopened from today,” the provincial health secretary said. “Religious gatherings will be subject to the permission of the concerned administration and implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs).”
Secretary Usman added that all business centres would be bound to implement SOPs. All kinds of public transport would run as usual, he said.
“Business hours and weekly holidays would same as before the coronavirus [outbreak],” Usman said.
However, he warned that the danger has not been averted yet and requested people to remain cautious.
Earlier, the Punjab Tourism Department (PTD) issued a notification comprising of 14 precautionary guidelines to prevent another surge of Covid-19 cases.
The notification makes it mandatory for visitors to use face masks at all times while visiting parks, museums, historical, and other recreational sites. Moreover, all visitors will be checked for their body temperatures at the entry points to these sites.
Moreover, banners and posters carrying the precautionary steps will be placed on all such premises.
While standing in the queues, it will be mandatory for visitors to maintain a safe distance of at least a metre. Only one visitor at a time will be allowed to stand at booths for purchasing tickets, and there would be a ban on huddling up at the counter.
Visitors using washrooms at the recreational sites will be provided with medicated soap. It has been instructed to use disposable cups or glasses for any food and drinks.
Further, the staff at these sites will have to undergo a brief medical exam before joining duties for the day and only the fit workers will be assigned duties.
The notification read that staff must be aware of all precautionary guidelines as well.
The Sindh government issued a notification on Monday pertaining to the lifting of the lockdown and the conditions under which economic and social activities could be resumed with effect on the same day.
According to the notification, non-contact sports, clubs, gyms, hotels, restaurants, parks, salons, cinemas, tourist hotels, shrines and public transport may reopen, subject to strict adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Furthermore, indoor and outdoor sporting events may take place without spectators, while permitted or licenced gatherings can also be held, again conditional on following SOPs to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Religious or patriotic processions and gatherings, however, must be approved in advance, while attendance at Urs-related activities at shrines is to be limited.
Educational institutions, marriage halls, business centres and expo halls are to remain closed until September 15.
Moreover, the notification added that the provincial or district authorities could, by order, restrict activities in areas identified as hotspots or high-risk areas for the virus.
The notification states that the decision was taken in light of discussions at the National Command and Operation Centre and National Coordination Committee, which agreed “to allow economic activities to lessen the economic burden on the population to the maximum possible extent while following precautionary measures.” It added that the Sindh government agreed to the majority of federating units’ opinion, while having some difference of opinion on the matter.
It reiterated the need for caution with the pandemic not yet being over. “Any carelessness is likely to cause increase in spread…Prevention remains the only measure against the disease till a cure or becomes available,” it added. “Stricter adherence to SOPs is required than ever before to contain the disease while more activities are being allowed.”
Business timings have been extended from 6am to 8pm six days a week, while restaurants may be open for dine-in until 10pm. On Saturdays, the timings have been extended by an hour. The number of occupants in closed spaces is to be limited, while distancing is to be ensured in seating arrangements as well.
Meanwhile, citizens were advised to avoid areas with potential crowding and observe hand hygiene and social distancing. Further, it was pointed out again that wearing face masks in public remained mandatory.
The notification warned that anyone found violating the SOPs was liable to face legal action, while businesses in violation may be closed.