NCOC decides to implement broader lockdowns, other restrictions in cities with positivity rate above 8pc

Published March 22, 2021
A man wears a protective face mask as he gestures while shopping amid the rush of people outside an electronics market in Karachi. — Reuters/File
A man wears a protective face mask as he gestures while shopping amid the rush of people outside an electronics market in Karachi. — Reuters/File

As Pakistan reported more than 3,000 coronavirus infections for the fifth straight day, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday announced a number of new restrictions for cities where the positivity rate was more than eight per cent.

The cities include Peshawar, which has reported the highest positivity rate at 19.98pc, followed by Swat at 17.09pc, Faisalabad at 16.69pc, Muzaffarabad at 15.56pc, Lahore at 14.72pc and Multan at 14.17pc. Besides, Bahawalpur, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Hyderabad are also included in the list.

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, who heads the NCOC, shared after the forum's meeting today that it had decided to increase restrictions on activities contributing to a sharp increase in the positivity rate.

During the meeting, the NCOC voiced "grave concern" over the current situation of the coronavirus in Pakistan and "unanimously agreed" upon a number of high-impact interventions in cities and districts where the three-day rolling positivity rate average was over 8pc.

These restrictions will remain in effect till April 11 while a review will be held on April 7.

"In cities with positivity less than 8pc, already imposed NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions) will continue to be enforced based on risk assessment/disease prevalence," the forum said in a statement.

It also said that a review of previous decisions taken regarding educational institutions would be held on March 24 (Wednesday).

The new restrictions decided by the NCOC include:

  • Implementation of broader lockdowns during which no movement will be allowed except for emergencies.
  • Closure of all indoor dining options while outdoor dining till 10pm and takeaways will be allowed.
  • Closure of all commercial activities, other than essential services, by 8pm.
  • Gatherings of up to 300 people will be allowed with strict observance of Covid-19 SOPs (standard operating procedures).
  • All indoor gatherings involving cultural, musical/religious, or miscellaneous events will be banned.
  • Cinemas and shrines will continue to remain closed.
  • All contact sports, festivals, cultural and other events will be banned.
  • Outdoor marriage events with up to 300 guests will be allowed for two hours only. However, all indoor marriage events will be banned.
  • All amusement parks will be closed while walking and jogging tracks will remain open.
  • Fifty per cent work from home policy will continue for all public and private offices and courts.
  • Intercity public transport will operate at 50pc of capacity.
  • Rail service will operate at 70pc of capacity.
  • Mask wearing will be compulsory and will be ensured by all provincial and federal authorities through the incorporation of innovative measures.
  • There will be a reduced presence of people at courts at all levels.
  • Strict protocols will be ensured for tourism in Gilgit Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and tourist places across the country. Sentinel testing sites will be established at entry points and other selected locations.
  • Two safe days will be observed per week that will be decided by provincial authorities.

Meanwhile, the country reported 3,669 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the majority of which - 1,863 - were reported in Punjab. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reported the second-highest number of new infections at 792 while Islamabad recorded 672.

The country also confirmed 20 more fatalities in the same time period.

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