ISLAMABAD: The weekend lockdown in the capital was extended for an indefinite period on Friday.

On the other hand, opening hours for businesses during the five working days has been increased by two hours.

A notification issued by the office of the deputy commissioner stated that all educational institutions, training institutes, seminaries, shrines, marriage halls, business centres, expo halls, theme/amusement parks, play areas and arcades, beauty parlors, spas, cinemas and theatres will remain closed, whereas restaurants and cafes will be allowed to operate their takeaway and home delivery services.

There will also be a complete ban on sporting events both indoor and outdoor, indoor clubs, gyms and sports. Besides, ban on gatherings of all kind, whether social or religious, at any place, public or private, will remain in force.

All businesses, factories, retail shops, shopping malls and plazas, except the already mentioned negative list, are allowed to operate subject to adoption of SOPs/guidelines till 8pm from Monday to Friday. There will be a complete lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays.

All medical services and pharmacies, medical stores, tyre repair shops, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors, flour chakkies, postal/courier services, drivers’ hotels, petrol pumps, oil depots, LPG and filling plants, agriculture machinery workshops, spare-parts shops, printing presses, call centres with 50pc staff and no public dealing, takeaway and home deliver from restaurants will remain open.

Inter-city and inter-district public transport is also allowed to operate, it said, adding grocery and karyana stores were allowed to open seven days a week from 9am to 8pm.

Churches will also remain open seven days a week from 7am to 5pm.

Officials in the capital administration said during the last four days the daily count of Covid-19 cases remained under 170 as 132 people tested positive on June 30, 137 on July 1, 170 on July 2 and 113 on July 3.

From March 11, when the first case was reported in the capital, to May 19 the per day count of the positive cases remained under 63.

On May 20, 100 and above cases were reported every day followed by 200 or more from May 31, 300 or over from June 20, 400 and over from June 5, 600 and over from June 7 and 700 and over from June 14. During the last four days the daily count has remained under 170.

A few days before Eidul Fitr, all marakiz, shopping centres and commercial areas were opened and people swarmed there for preparation of Eid. Besides, a large number of people also moved to their hometowns to celebrate Eid.

Due to massive violation of the SOPs during these days, the virus spread sharply and the per day count increased considerably. However, locking down of hotspots resulted in the decrease of the positive cases.

Rush at marakiz, shopping centres and malls is increasing again, said the officials.

The spread and the per-day count of positive cases may increase again if people violated the SOPs during Eidul Azha as they did on the occasion of Eidul Fitr, they added.

Approximately, 80,000 to 100,000 animals are brought to the main cattle market in the capital and a majority of the citizens visit the market to buy the animals.

Officials said the district administration was considering establishing 10 to 12 cattle markets in the capital to minimise the rush of buyers and sellers at one place.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2020