LAHORE: With coronavirus continuing to spread rapidly and 1,725 new cases reported during the last 24 hours in the Punjab capital alone, the divisional administration is considering a proposal to close the entire city to all those travelling to and from here daily.
Entry and exit would only be allowed in extreme emergency cases, Dawn has learnt. The Lahore administration also launched a crackdown on those flouting the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“We are seriously working on a proposal to close down the Punjab capital keeping in view a massive surge in Covid-19 cases daily. We will present this proposal in a meeting of the cabinet committee on coronavirus scheduled to be held on Monday (today),” Lahore Commissioner retired Capt Muhammad Usman Younas told Dawn on Sunday.
He said he would plead this proposal before the committee headed by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. “We also have a second option in case the first one is not approved under which we will request the committee to at least allow us to close down all marriage halls, transport modes and restaurants for 10 to 12 days,” the commissioner explained.
Crackdown launched on those flouting SOPs at public places
To a question, he said closing down the city or observing a complete lockdown meant there would be no entry to and exit from Lahore. Only the essential services would remain open, as witnessed last year. “Our main objective at this time is to contain public mobility at maximum level at least for 10 to 12 days, as it is necessary to break the virus-spread cycle,” he maintained.
“Lahore reported 1,725 cases yesterday. The situation is getting bad with every passing day. Lets play our part in raising awareness, as we need to stop the spread,” the commissioner tweeted. “Yesterday, 27 new areas were put under lockdown totalling 40 in Lahore. So those found violating the non-pharmaceutical interventions will be dealt with severely. It is time to act,” he said in another tweet.
On the other hand, the city administration launched a massive crackdown on the people flouting Covid-19 SOPs in public places. Deputy Commissioner Mudassir Riaz Malik visited Jilani Park and got 10 youngsters arrested for not wearing facemasks.
He also distributed masks among those not wearing any. “Why are you putting your life at risk by not wearing masks which is a key SOP to avert contracting coronavirus? You must follow the SOPs for your own and others’ safety,” he told the people.
A team led by the City assistant commissioner visited Islampura, Krishan Nagar, Karim Park and Shad Bagh and got 30 people arrested for not wearing masks. First information reports were also lodged against them.
Another team sealed a bus terminal at Thokar Niaz Baig for not implementing the SOPs, especially social distancing and wearing masks. The team also raided bus terminals of other companies near Yatim Khana and impounded 10 buses and imposed a fine of Rs100,000 on the owners of 40 others for flouting the SOPs.
Meanwhile, Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Secretary Nabeel Awan, while talking to a private TV channel, said that if the government did not ban large gatherings, it would not be able to control the spread of the virus.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2021