ISLAMABAD: As the coronavirus continued spreading fast, the capital administration on Friday decided to impose a complete lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays.

Besides, shrines, gymnasiums and parks have again been closed while timings for the businesses allowed to open five days a week have been reduced by an hour.

Officials said the spread of Covid-19 could only be prevented by social distancing and adopting other precautionary measures.

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat said another standard operating procedure (SOP) was issued after a sharp increase in the confirmed cases during the last 10 days. He said commercial and business centres along with other activities have been divided into three categories as per their nature and demand.

Those included in the category one are completely closed and not permitted to do any business, the DC said, adding the category included all type of gathering of people, educational and training institutes, religious seminaries, shrines, marriage halls, restaurants except for takeaway service, parks, parlours, salons, spas, cinema and theaters and sports centres.

Shrines, gymnasiums and parks closed again; timings for businesses reduced by an hour

In category two are those activities that have been allowed to open five days a week from Monday to Friday, Mr Shafqaat said, adding this category included businesses, factories, offices, facilities (service centres), retail shops, malls and plazas.

The timing for these commercial activities is also reduced by an hour and they are allowed to open from 9am to 6pm.

Commercial and business activities allowed to open seven days a week are in the third category and thse included medical services, including medical stores, filling station and other essential shops.

Besides, inter-district transport is also allowed to operate seven days week while grocery and green grocery shops/stores, bakeries, milk shops, meat/chicken shops would open seven days a week from 9am to 6pm. The DC said the new SOP had come into force with immediate effect.

A notification issued from the office of the DC said amendments have been made to the order issued on May 9 after a decision taken at a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Covid-19 on June 1. All educational and tanning institutions, religious seminaries, shrines, marriage halls, business centres, expo halls, restaurants, cafes (except takeaway and home delivery), theme/amusement parks, play areas and arcades, beauty parlors and saps, cinemas, theatres and public processions shall remain closed.

There shall be a complete ban on sport tournaments indoor and outdoor, indoor clubs, indoor gyms and other sports facilities. There shall also be a ban on gathering for all kinds of social, religious or any other purpose at any place, public or private.

All business, factories, facilities, premises, retail shops, shopping malls and plazas are hereby allowed to operate subject to adoption of SOPs/guidelines from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday.

All medical services and pharmacies/medical stores, tyre shops, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors, flour chakkis, postal/courier services, hotels, petrol pumps, oil depots, LPG outlets and filling plants, agriculture machinery workshops and spare parts shops, printing press, call centres are allowed to open 24/7 with 50 per cent staff and no public dealing.

Home delivery and takeaway would be allowed from the restaurants too.

Inter-city and inter-district public transport is also allowedto operate while grocery stores are allowed seven days a week from 9am to 6pm.

Churches are also allowed to open seven days a week from 7am to 5pm, it added.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020