Sindh govt allows resumption of business, sports activities

11 Aug 2020

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A TRAFFIC jam is seen in the old city area on Monday after the government allowed most businesses to reopen.—PPI
A TRAFFIC jam is seen in the old city area on Monday after the government allowed most businesses to reopen.—PPI

KARACHI: The Sindh government on Monday announced reopening of most of the sectors of the economy which had been closed for more than four months due to the coronavirus pandemic but warned that any carelessness in precautionary measures would lead to action from the authorities.

It emphasised adherence to health guidelines to prevent further spread of the virus.

In a notification, the government said it was allowing businesses to resume operations, noting that it had agreed with the decision of a majority of the provinces and would keep a close watch on all business activities.

The Sindh home department in its order stated that businesses were being allowed to reopen subject to “strict adherence” of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in view of a decline in Covid-19 cases in the country, but acknowledged that “the disease is still prevalent and likely to increase if no adequate precautions are taken”.

Hotels, cinemas to open for dine-in with one-third of capacity; schools, marriage halls will remain closed till Sept 15

Educational institutions, marriage halls, business and expo centres in the province, however, will remain closed till September 15.

The activities/businesses allowed to resume from Aug 10 include hotels, restaurants and cafes, parks and playgrounds, cinemas and theatres, non-contact sports, sports clubs and gyms, sports tournaments (indoor and outdoor) without audience, beauty parlours and spas, shrines (for permitted gatherings), tourist and public transport with SOPs.

Businesses to open six days a week

The order said that the businesses in Sindh would be allowed to open six days a week, with an off on either Friday or Sunday, except pharmacies and essential services which work seven days a week. Their timings will be from 6am to 8pm except on Saturday when they will remain open until 9pm.

According to the fresh move, the businesses would be required to allow only around one-third of their normal capacity of the visitors/customers inside their establishments at a time to ensure social distancing.

The restaurants and cafes will be allowed to operate all days of the week but with limited dine-in services until 10pm daily except on Saturday when they can stay open until 11pm. The last order must be taken an hour before closing. Customers must be seated with a distance of over three feet between them. Takeaway will be allowed from morning until 10pm on all days of the week except Saturday when it will be permitted until 11pm. Home delivery of food will be allowed from morning until midnight (12am).

Businesses will be bound to maintain a distance of more than three feet between customers, staff or visitors and deny entry to persons showing Covid-19 symptoms or those not wearing a mask.

According to the rules, no procession or gathering will be allowed which has not been given permission in advance including during religious festivals and national holidays.

“The provincial government/district administration, by an order, may restrict all/any activity/area which is identified as [a] hotspot/high risk for the spread of Covid-19,” the order stated.

It urged the public to avoid all places with the potential of crowding and “where absolutely essential to attend”, wear a face mask and strictly observe hand hygiene and social distancing protocols.

Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, meanwhile, called for more responsibility from the people and the business community for this trend to continue with maximum precautions from all segments of society.

“The decline in coronavirus cases came only through government’s efforts and people’s cooperation,” he said in a statement. “But we need to be more careful than the past few months. We have to move on with all precautions and social distancing. We need to prove discipline in our ranks and don’t allow the second wave of the pandemic to strike.”

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2020