No commercial activities in 11 virus-hit cities after 10pm

Updated 29 Oct 2020

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In this file photo from May, women shop at a market after the government eased the lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the coronavirus in Rawalpindi. — AFP/File
In this file photo from May, women shop at a market after the government eased the lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the coronavirus in Rawalpindi. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Opera­tion Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19 on Wednesday announ­ced schedule for commercial and social activities in 11 cities which are most vulnerable to the deadly coronavirus.

Since 80 per cent Covid-19 cases are being reported in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Peshawar and Quetta, commercial activities — markets, shopping malls, marriage halls and restaurants — will be closed at 10pm and amusement/public parks at 6pm daily from Thursday (today).

Wearing of mask is mandatory at public places and a fine of Rs6,000 to Rs35,000 and punishment of six-month imprisonment will be slapped on the violators. A notification in this regard will be published in the Gazette of Pakistan on Thursday, but it will come into effect after Eid Milad-un-Nabi.

NCOC says parks to be closed at 6pm; heavy fine, six-month imprisonment to be slapped on violators; 80pc Covid-19 cases reported in major cities

“All the parameters i.e. positivity of tests, mortality rate, admissions in hospitals, etc, are increasing. Though there is no exponential increase in cases, I believe that the time has come to take steps to control the virus, otherwise things can become worse,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said while talking to Dawn.

He said the message was that Pakistan should not lose the war won against the virus. “We are taking provinces onboard and I have reached Lahore to talk to the Punjab government. Similarly, other provinces will also be taken onboard,” he added.

When asked about the heavy fine which most of the common people may not be able to pay, Dr Sultan said it was necessary to ensure that everyone wears mask and the NCOC would go to any extent to save the masses from the deadly virus.

According to a statement issued by the NCOC, strict enforcement of compulsory mask wearing in confined spaces (indoors, public transport, outdoor crowded settings like markets and bus stands, railway stations, etc) will be ensured.

Commercial activities will not be allowed after 10pm, but essential services — medical stores, clinics, hospitals, etc — will remain open. Moreover, broad-based smart lockdowns in hotspots are also under consideration.

“Wearing of face mask is must in all offices, both public and private sectors. NCOC has directed provinces to ensure compliance with mask wearing SOPs, particularly in bazaars, shopping malls, public transport and restaurants. Eighty per cent disease spread and increase in positivity ratio [has been reported] in 11 major cities across Pakistan. At present 4,374 lockdowns are imposed, with 30,610 population under lockdown,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad district administration has declared the wearing of mask mandatory at public places by imposing Section 144 under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898. “The order has come into force with immediate effect and shall remain in force for a period of two months. In case of violation, strict action will be taken against the violators,” the notification states.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqat, while talking to Dawn, said that as per rules a fine of Rs6,000 to Rs35,000 can be imposed on the violators.

“Moreover, there is also a provision of up to six-month imprisonment but in 99pc cases, only fines are imposed and in the remaining 1pc cases, the violators are sent to jail for one day,” he added.

Mr Shafqat appealed to the masses to wear mask in their own interest as it would save them and their loved ones from the deadly virus.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2020