ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: The capital administration has allowed dine-in services at restaurants while waiting for a response from the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) and the National Coordination Committee (NCC) as to which business activities should be allowed to resume in the city and under what conditions.
However, in the meantime restaurants have been conditionally allowed to resume dine-in services and shrines have been opened as well.
Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat told Dawn that the NCC is revising the list that halted some business activities to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The businesses that have been removed from this list will be allowed to open after the list has been received, he said.
Similarly, the NHS ministry is working on standard operating procedures (SOP) under which businesses may resume operations.
Capital admin, however, waits for revised SOPs from ministry, NCC
The businesses include wedding halls and marquees, business centres, expo halls, amusement parks, play areas, salons, spas, cinemas and theatres, Mr Shafqaat said.
Based on the revised list, a notification will be issued for businesses that have been excluded.
In the meantime, restaurants are allowed to offer dine-in services to their customers and a notification will be issued in this regard shortly after the SOPs are received.
Restaurants have been asked not to entertain children and elderly people, and to maintain a 6ft distance between tables.
No one will be allowed into dine-in establishments without masks and having their temperature checked using a thermal gun, he said. Hand washing facilities must also be arranged for customers.
Shrines have also been opened to pilgrims under SOPs, but urs celebrations are restricted.
Pindi residents ignore SOPs
All kinds of public transport and all business sectors other than wedding halls, marquees and educational institutions were allowed starting Monday, subject to the adoption of SOPs.
As a result, hundreds of people - with just a few wearing the requisite protective gear - gathered at markets, in commercial centres and on the roads.
Heavy vehicular movement was seen in various parts of the garrison city after the Punjab government lifted restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus, leading to a mess of traffic on the roads.
The Punjab government issued a notification withdrawing the lockdown in the wake of the NCC’s decision. The notification said: “All sectors except marriage halls/marquees and educational institutions are hereby allowed to operate from August 10th, 2020 subjected to adoption of SOPs/guidelines.”
“Religious congregations shall be allowed after approval from concerned administration and subjected to adoption of SOPs/guidelines,” it added.
Timings and weekly holidays have reverted to the pre-pandemic practice, and all kinds of public transport is allowed to run.
Very few customers in the city’s markets were seen wearing masks and gloves on Monday. There were up to 19 people crammed inside Suzuki vans used as public transport, none of whom could be seen wearing a mask in downtown Raja Bazaar, where, as in its adjoining markets, there was also no social distancing.
Even the city’s traders ignored SOPs, social distancing protocols and the need for hand sanitiser.
Although the government has claimed it has succeeded in controlling the spread of the coronavirus, people have been asked to follow SOPs to limit the spread as well.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2020