Balochistan govt extends 'smart lockdown' till August 17, says virus threat 'still exists'

Updated 03 Aug 2020

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All people will have to wear a mask or cover their faces with a piece of cloth in public places, the notification stated.— AFP/File
All people will have to wear a mask or cover their faces with a piece of cloth in public places, the notification stated.— AFP/File

The Balochistan government on Monday extended the province-wide 'smart lockdown' enforced to curb the spread of the coronavirus till August 17.

A notification from the provincial government stated that the "threat of the coronavirus still exists and restrictions on social distancing and precautionary measures are required to be put in place for the safety of human lives". The lockdown expired on July 31.

Balochistan has reported 11,774 cases and 136 deaths so far. The province has not reported any additional death for over 10 days.

A screenshot of one of the pages of the notification.
A screenshot of one of the pages of the notification.

According to the notification, there will be a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, sit-ins and processions at public places during the 'smart lockdown' period. More than two people will not be allowed to travel in the same car while pillion-riding is also prohibited unless the second person is a female member of the family, a child or an elderly person.

All people will have to wear a face mask or cover their faces with a piece of cloth at public places, the notification stated, adding that all educational institutions will remain closed.

Marriage halls, parks, auditoriums, cinemas, farmhouses and places of entertainment will also remain closed during the lockdown while markets and shops are allowed to open from 9am to 7pm.

Tandoors, stores selling dairy products, pharmacies, blood banks and grocery stores are allowed to remain open for 24 hours, seven days a week, the notification added. Restaurants and food delivery services are also exempted from time restrictions for home delivery and take-away.

The government also allowed inter-city and intra-city transport operations to resume under standard operating procedures (SOPs), which include disinfecting the vehicle, keeping the seat adjacent to a passenger vacant, installing hand sanitisers and wearing face masks.

Essential services, petrol pumps, tire repair shops will also be allowed to remain open, the notification added.

Last month, Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani had claimed that the number of people affected by the virus had decreased in the province by up to 50 per cent over the past two months.

The spokesperson said the situation was improving in Balochistan, but the people were required to observe more cautions during Eidul Azha.

He said when the pandemic hit the country some three months ago, there was shortage of laboratories and testing kits, but now centres had been set up in all the districts and the people were being asked to give samples for testing.