LAHORE: The city administration on Thursday sealed over 100 shops for violating the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Punjab government on Wednesday and warned to get tougher by the day if shopkeepers and people do not behave.
Explaining the activity, an official of the district administration explained: “Thursday was more of a warning shot. It was day first of implementation of the SOPs and the administration just wanted to convey its seriousness to traders. The severity and frequency of raids would certainly increase by the day if violations are reported.”
“The provincial government had a meeting with traders in the afternoon and it just wanted to get the message through. That is why administration along with police visited not only every nook and corner of the city but also its suburbs and conurbations as well. The spread of shop sealing explains the extent: 30 shops on Hall Road, 25 in Township, four in Garhi Shahu area and rest in Walled City, Anarkali and as far as Raiwind. The total 107 shops were sealed on the day,” he said.
The Lahore police, which assisted the administration, says that shops have only been sealed, no FIRs have been lodged or arrests made. The exercise was restricted to sealing of few shops and warning to others as it was aimed at “conveying the message” that government means business. “So, ensure sanitizers, masks and social distance. Otherwise, your business runs the risk,” he claimed.
Meanwhile,Minister for Industries and Trade Aslam Iqbal held a meeting with traders at the Town Hall and issued a list of policy contours: “Complete monitoring of markets will be ensured; I myself will conduct surprise visits; even if a single shop is found violating SOPs, the entire market will be sealed; no one would be allowed to keep shutter up after 7pm and no one will be allowed to continue business with half shutters down (a common occurrence reported from markets).”
Flanked by the Lahore Division commissioner, deputy commissioner, CCPO and other officers concerned, the minister said traders had assured “implementation of all SOPs” and they had been told about the financial cost of violations.
“The traders have been told in no uncertain terms that strict checking would be conducted at the entry points of markets and no one without mask would be allowed to enter the market. If a customer comes to shop without mask, the shopkeeper is supposed to provide one. The children and elderly would not be allowed in markets either. The traders are also supposed to immediately remove all encroachments in the markets to avoid rush and movement of customers.”
Denying “any proposal under consideration” to impose curfew or complete lockdown, the minister said though there was no such scheme on the table, it certainly becomes an option if traders or any other segments of society violate the SOPs. The traders assured complete cooperation to observe SOPs and also gave suggestions for better implementation.
Meanwhile, theGujranwala district administration reinforced lockdown due to rapidly increasing cases of corona and ignorance of SOPs by public till Sunday.
The main markets were closed by the district administration.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2020