ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) on Friday proposed restrictions on large-scale public gatherings and issued fresh guidelines for marriage halls after the country saw a rise in Covid-19 infections in recent weeks.
According to officials privy to the development, the NCOC pointed out that large-scale public gatherings were prohibited in most countries as they had the potential to cause an exponential increase in infections.
They said these gatherings should ideally not take place at all, but if unavoidable, must be organised with strict compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for which deliberations were under way.
A final decision will subsequently be taken by the National Coordination Committee headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Public gatherings and marriage halls, which were reopened on Sept 15, are hotspots for the spread of coronavirus.
Fresh advice shared with provinces; ban on public gatherings proposed
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, at an earlier NCOC meeting, had also pointed out that marriage halls and restaurants were becoming main sources for the spread of the virus.
“Being a very high-risk sector, it has the potential to increase positivity at national level if SOPs are not adhered to. Therefore, in order to reduce chances of coronavirus from spreading, in-depth deliberations were carried out at the NCOC and guidelines formulated and shared with the federating units for strict enforcement in marriage halls,” the officials said.
Under the revised guidelines, 300 people would be allowed for indoor and 500 for outdoor events, which would last for two hours, wrapping up by 10pm.
It further said that marriage halls found violating SOPs would be closed for a specified time and imposed a heavy fine.
In order to provide sufficient time to families to arrange an alternative venue, the marriage hall in question would be closed two weeks from the date of closure ordered by the local administration. Marriage hall owners will be bound to reimburse the entire amount to families that have made advance booking.
Meanwhile, the NCOC, in its meeting on Thursday, decided to review the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the country and formulate a comprehensive response to check any possible resurgence of the pandemic in the coming days.
According to officials, the meeting decided to share the review report with stakeholders to seek their input and, after a consensus, evolve an implementation strategy, which would then be issued in the next few days.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister Asad Umar said public safety was of utmost importance and the success of efforts made against Covid-19 would not be allowed to go to waste.
Health experts apprised the forum of the pattern and prevalence of a possible second wave in the world, particularly in the region.
Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2020