KARACHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah announced that shops and markets, except shopping malls and plazas, would open from Monday (today) under a standard operating procedure (SOP) he shared with the representatives of small traders in a meeting on Sunday.
In the meeting with leaders of small traders’ associations, he said that the businesses would operate from 6am to 4pm and there would be a grace period of an hour to close the shops and return to their home because the lockdown would be imposed from 5pm sharp.
The meeting, held at the auditorium of the Sindh Assembly Building, was attended by provincial ministers Dr Azra Pechuho, Saeed Ghani, Imtiaz Shaikh, Nasir Shah, Ikram Dharejo, Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IGP Mushtaq Mahar, Home Secretary Usman Chachar and leaders of different traders’ organisations, including Siraj Teli.
The chief minister announced that community markets/retail outlets, stand-alone/neighbourhood shops, excluding shops situated in shopping malls and plazas, would resume their activities from 6am to 4pm, from Monday to Thursday.
The chief minister said that construction industries and community markets/ retail outlets, shops in rural areas, neighbourhood shops located in residential localities would operate from 6am to 4pm.
Trade bodies assure CM of following SOPs; malls, barbers’ shops, beauty parlours, clubs, parks will not open
He added that Saturdays and Sundays would be observed as ‘safe days’ with all sectors/retail closed other than essential sectors or those with a continuous process.
Barber shops, beauty parlours to remain closed
The chief minister said that the sectors that would continue to remain closed were all industries/businesses not cleared for opening till May 9, shopping malls, plazas, educational institutions, offices that were not cleared for opening till May 9, restaurants, hotels, marquee, marriage halls, cinemas and places of large gatherings, public processions, gatherings, congregations of all nature and organised sports events and concerts.
He said that barber shops, beauty parlours, hair cutting salons/spas, game centres, video games, carom/dabbu clubs, pools, game shops, gyms, cafés, sit-in eatery, social clubs and parks would also remain closed.
The CM said that he was well aware that small traders were passing through a very serious situation because their businesses had been closed down due to coronavirus pandemic.
“I know your [traders] position, but I had one option either to save life of our people or allow the business activities thriving at the cost of our lives,” he said.
He said that he was grateful to the traders’ community in implementing the lockdown. “You have kept your business activities closed for two months. Therefore, you have been affected badly but we have to find out a new way of life of living with it.”
The chief minister told the small traders that he was talking to the federal government for giving them loans for payment of salaries to their employees and to meet other expenditures.
“We are working a plan to steer the business community out of the crisis,” he assured them.
‘Lockdown has produced good results’
He was of the view that the lockdown had produced good results, which were also acknowledged by the traders’ community.
He said that it was not his unilateral decision to impose the lockdown but the decision was taken with a collective wisdom.
“The prime minister had chaired a meeting to discuss the post-May 9 situation so that lockdown could be eased off,” he said and added the prime minister’s meeting was attended by all the chief ministers and prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan.
He pointed out he had opposed two proposals — opening of public transports, including train, and air traffic and allowing business activities from 8pm to 12am.
“I am grateful to the federal government that they accepted my request and announced opening of business activities, except shopping malls, plazas, hotels and restaurants, from Fajr (6am) to 5pm,” he said.
“Now a political criticism has been unleashed against me just to give an impression that it is only the Sindh government which has closed down the business activities in the province,” he said and added: “They are not only criticising me but actually in naivety they are pointing the finger of accusation against their government in the centre.”
KCCI assures to follow SOP
Siraj Qasim Teli, a leader of the Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), said on the occasion that if any traders had objection on any clause of the SOP he must point it out right here and right now.
“Once the SOP is implemented, everyone will be bound to abide by it, and in case of violation by any trader, the administration will be authorised to take action accordingly and the KCCI will not support the delinquent,” he said.
“We have to learn how to live with the virus until and unless its vaccine is invented,” Mr Teli said, adding: “Therefore, we must appreciate the chief minister for the actions he had taken to save the lives of the people in the province.”
He said had the CM not imposed the lockdown the situation would have been different here.
Nine more die of Covid-19
Sharing details of Sunday’s coronavirus cases in Sindh with the traders’ community, the chief minister said that 709 new cases had emerged when 4,215 samples were tested.
He said nine more patients lost their lives, lifting the death toll to 189 in Sindh.
At the outset of the meeting, Mr Shah said that 4,215 tests were conducted against which 709 new cases, or 17 per cent of the tested people, were detected.
He said that 448 of the 709 cases detected in Karachi — 152 cases in district Malir, 145 in South, 87 in Central, 81 in East, 54 in West and 29 cases in Korangi.
Mr Shah said that 29 cases were detected in Hyderabad, 19 in Jacobabad, 16 in Shikarpur, 12 in Ghotki, 11 each in Sanghar and Naushehro Feroze, six in Sukkur, five in Larkana, four in Shaheed Benazirabad, three each in Jamshoro and Khairpur and two in Tando Allahyar.
He said the number of cases is increasing since random testing of people at grocery and vegetable shops had started. “I would advise people not to go at shops without masks and must observe social distancing there,” he urged.
He said that the government had conducted 91,323 tests and found 11,480 cases as positive, which was 12.6pc of the total tests.
“The ratio of positive cases is on the increase because it is peak of the pandemic in Sindh,” he said.
The CM said that at present 9,210 patients were under treatment, of them 7,973, or 86pc of the total patients, were in home isolation, 684, or 8pc were at isolation centres and 553, or 6pc, were under treatment in different hospitals.
He said that 99 patients were in critical condition and 26 of them were on ventilators.
He said that 61 more patients recovered and discharged to their respective homes and the number of patients cured so far came to 2,081, or 18.1pc of the total patients.
Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2020