THE response by the Sindh chief minister to the coronavirus pandemic has been commendable. He has led from the front and set an example for the chief ministers of other provinces in terms of timely measures to combat the situation.

His approach in handling the crisis has been focused and the compassion demonstrated during his speeches has been remarkable. The current shopping hours in the lockdown situation in Sindh are not convenient to the public and has detrimental impact on the business activities.

However, social distancing has been proven to be the only practical deterrent to this deadly virus that has claimed thousands of lives across the globe. While the Karachi lockdown has been generally successful, one of its aspects is worth re-consideration.

The change in closing time for food and grocery shops to 5.00pm from the original 8.00pm seems to be counter-productive in terms of social distancing. A huge number of customers throng these shops in the afternoon and create a rush in which social distancing becomes practically impossible.

It is also difficult for the local administration to enforce the social distancing measures with the heavy vehicular traffic in the short shop operating hours. This situation can contribute to a potential spread of coronavirus in the province.

I request the Sindh chief minister to consider reverting to the closing timings of 8.00pm for shops selling essential items during the lockdown period.

This will help in easing the customer rush and will facilitate social distancing at these shops.

Aamir Malik
Karachi

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2020

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