Parks, hiking trails in Islamabad opened to public for exercise

Updated 28 Apr 2020

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MCI directorate responsible for implementing SOPs and social distancing guidelines in these areas. — Dawn/File
MCI directorate responsible for implementing SOPs and social distancing guidelines in these areas. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Parks and hiking trails in the Margalla Hills have been opened to the public for the purposes of exercise.

A notification was issued by Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat, which stated that parks and trails have been opened for the public with immediate effect.

Permission is subject to adherence to standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by the deputy commissioner’s office including social distancing guidelines, the notification said.

The Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad’s environment directorate will be responsible for implementing the SOPs and guidelines.

Another SOP has been issued for general stores, according to which staff must frequently wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol based (at least 70pc) hand sanitiser. Hand sanitiser must also be available at the entrance of a store for customers.

MCI directorate responsible for implementing SOPs and social distancing guidelines in these areas

It should be ensured that customers sanitise their hands before entering the store and while leaving, and that thermal guns are available at store entrances so customers are only allowed in after their temperature is checked. Customers with cough or flu symptoms should not be allowed into stores.

People should only be allowed into shops in small groups to ensure the space does not get crowded, and customers and sales staff should maintain a safe distance of six feet - prefereably two metres - from each other. Frequently used surfaces - such as shopping trollies, door handles, cashier counters, product ranks and so on - must be disinfected frequently with 0.5pc diluted bleach or 60pc to 80pc diluted alcohol solutions.

Floors should be disinfected with bleach or alcohol-based surface cleaner regularly at equal intervals. Disinfectant formulations such as sodium hypochlorite with concentration of 5000-6150ppm to 500-615ppm free chlorine are used for environmental surface cleaning.

ATMs should be cleaned with alcohol swabs after each customer and hand sanitiser should be available beside each machine. In addition, debit and credit card machines available at cashier counters should be disinfected frequently as well.

Sales staff and receptionists must wear gloves, and rest areas for staff should be disinfected regularly. Staff should comply with social distancing measures by keeping a 6ft distance from each other, and unwell staff members should practice social distancing and keep track of their symptoms.

The SOPs said that customers should be reminded to buy according to their requirements to prevent hoarding, and notices should be displayed promoting hand hygiene and social distancing within and outside stores and buildings. Queue control should be ensured, and 6ft distance should be maintained outside shops and other essential premises that are open.

Store managers and staff must also keep themselves up to date with instructions issued by the government. The SOPs include guidelines for customers as well, who are advised to avoid visiting stores or marketplaces if they are suffering from fever, flu or a cough.

Customers should also sanitise their hands before and after shopping, avoid touching surfaces unnecessary, maintain a distance of 6ft or preferably two metres from sales staff and other customers within stores, cooperate with staff and follow other safety guidelines provided by the store management.

Failures to comply with guidelines by the store management should be reported to local authorities.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2020