The Sindh government has decided to reimpose coronavirus restrictions from Monday (July 26), banning indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and curbing market timings due to an uptick in Covid-19 cases.
The decision was taken during a provincial coronavirus task force meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Friday.
New restrictions effective from July 26
- Indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants will be banned
- Shopping malls and markets will be allowed to remain open from 6am to 6pm
- All educational institutions will remain closed, but exams will be held as per schedule
- Marriage functions at wedding halls and other events will not be allowed
- Shrines will remain closed
- Fridays and Saturdays will be observed as safe days
- Offices and in public and private sectors will be allowed to remain open with 50pc occupancy
According to the new directives, shopping malls and markets will be allowed to remain open between 6am and 6pm. However, the restriction on timings will not apply to grocery stores, bakeries and pharmacies.
All educational institutions are to remain closed from Monday, but exams will be held as per schedule.
There will be a complete ban on marriage functions at wedding halls and other events, as well as indoor and outdoor dining. Eateries, however, will be allowed to provide takeaway services.
Shrines, too, will remain closed, while Fridays and Saturdays will be observed as safe days. Offices and in public and private sectors will be allowed to remain open with 50per cent occupancy.
SIMs of unvaccinated citizens to be blocked, CM says
The Sindh chief minister also said that the provincial government would send a letter to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in order to block the SIMs of unvaccinated citizens.
He said the PTA should send messages to citizens, urging them to get vaccinated and those who still did not get vaccinated within a span of a week, their SIMs should be blocked.
Shah directed the relevant officials to communicate the decision to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).
He said the government would decide next month about not issuing salaries to unvaccinated government employees. In this regard, he directed the Sindh finance secretary to contact the Sindh advocate general.
During today's meeting, Sindh Health Secretary Dr Kazim Jatoi informed the participants that the coronavirus positivity rate in Sindh had reached 10.3pc, and provincial capital Karachi had recorded a positivity rate of 21.58pc.
After the briefing, Chief Minister Shah termed the situation "concerning", and expressed fear that it may worsen after Eidul Azha.
The restrictions come as Pakistan surpassed the grim milestone of one million coronavirus cases on Friday. During the last 24 hours, the country reported 1,425 virus cases, taking the national tally to 1,000,034. Of these, 1,002 were reported from Sindh.
According to the National Command and Operation Centre, 25,215 tests were conducted during this period and the positivity rate was recorded as 5.65 pc. Further, 11 deaths were also reported, taking the death toll to 22,939.
Traders reject Sindh govt’s decision
The Karachi Tajir Action Committee (KTAC) — a body representing a large number of trade associations in the city — has resented the government's decision to reduce market timings, saying the traders will not accept this “cruel” and “unwise” decision.
KTAC’s deputy convener Sharjeel Goplani, in a statement, demanded of the government to allow markets, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, wedding halls and other industries to operate in compliance with the SOPs along with the one-day closure of businesses instead of two.
He said the Sindh government was forcing traders to take to the streets to protest. “Traders will be forced to come up with a strategy for their survival,” he added.