Punjab government on Monday said it is imposing a 'smart lockdown' in the province, effective from midnight tonight till August 5, in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus during Eidul Azha.
The step comes as Punjab reported zero deaths for the first time in two months. The official daily tally of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the province has remained below 500 over the last one week.
According to a notification issued by the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department dated July 27, all educational and training institutes, marriage halls, business centres, expo halls, restaurants, theme/amusement parks, play areas and arcades, beauty parlours and spas, cinemas and theatres will remain closed.
"There shall be a complete ban on sporting tournaments/matches (indoor and outdoor) except non-contact professional sports without spectators. All contact sports and indoor sports clubs/facilities shall remain closed."
The notification added that there will also be a complete ban on gatherings of all kinds for social, religious or any other purpose at any place, public or private.
"All retail shops, markets, shopping malls and plazas shall remain closed," the notification said. However, exceptions were made for some, including pharmacies postal services, petrol pumps and takeaway/home delivery for restaurants, which will be allowed to operate for 24 hours.
Grocery stores, bakeries, corner shops, fruit and vegetable shops, meat and milk shops and tandoors will be allowed to operate from 6am to 12am while inter-city and inter-district public transport will be allowed to operate round-the-clock.
On Sunday, Punjab Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik had said that protecting human lives was of utmost importance to the government and all possible steps, including the strict implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) in cattle markets, would be taken to curb the spread of Covid-19.
He was presiding over a meeting reviewing arrangements for enforcing a 'smart lockdown' in the province and SOPs in cattle markets.
The chief secretary had said 'smart lockdowns' in Lahore and other cities in the province had yielded positive results and the number of new coronavirus cases had continued to subside since then.
He had stated that shopping activities in markets before Eidul Azha could intensify the spread of Covid-19, adding that keeping in view the experience of Eidul Fitr, it had been decided in the larger public interest to enforce 'smart lockdowns' ahead of the upcoming religious festival.
The chief secretary had asked all divisional commissioners to strictly enforce SOPs, including wearing masks and banning the entry of the elderly and children in cattle markets.