LAHORE: While administering vaccine to a record 581,044 people in a day, the Punjab government on Tuesday issued fresh guidelines for the business community, the public, private offices and Muharram processions to stop transmission of the highly infectious Delta virus.
The guidelines were issued particularly for Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi where the Punjab government had imposed complete lockdown on Monday night for reporting high positivity rate of the virus.
Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department Secretary Sarah Aslam said certain restrictions were made in the four districts on the recommendations of the NCOC and the provincial government. She said the restrictions would come into effect from Aug 3 (Tuesday) and remain in place until Aug 31.
She said Sunday would be observed a closed day for all business and commercial activities. Pharmacies, medical stores, health centres, vaccination centres, petrol pumps, tandoors, bakeries, dairy shops, food takeaways, e-commerce, courier postal services, gas, water and electricity offices, cellular companies, auto workshops, oil depots and markets (vegetables, fruits, grains & livestock) would be allowed to work 24 hours seven days a week, she said.
“All business centres will be open until 8pm. Office attendance has been reduced to 50%, while gyms to remain open only for vaccinated persons; also cinemas, shrines to remain completely closed during the lockdown,” the health secretary said.
She said the Punjab government had banned indoor dining, however, outdoor dining had been allowed till 10pm.
Indoor weddings will be banned from Aug 8 and only outdoor events with a capacity of 400 people would be allowed until 10pm.
She said all tourist destinations across the province were allowed to operate in accordance with SOPs. The recreation centres, amusement parks, swimming pools, contact sports (martial arts, kabaddi and rugby), cultural festivals and gatherings would be completely closed, she said.
She also said that all public transport would be allowed to run with a capacity of 50% except for freight cars, ambulances, and medical vehicles. There would be a complete ban on all types of refreshments during the trips. The train service would continue with 70% of the total capacity, however, sectors of industry and agriculture would be exempted.
Sarah Aslam assured that the district administration and the police would work together to ensure the implementation of these SOPs.
About Muharram, the Punjab health secretary said separate guidelines had been issued for safe conduct of this annual religious event.
“While observing the important component of faith, detailed guidelines have been issued assessing the Covid 19 delta variant fourth wave,” she said. She urged the mourners to follow Covid guidelines during Majalis and processions and use masks and hand sanitisers.
Mandatory vaccination should be followed by Zakirs to conduct Majalis, she said, adding that the participation of the elderly, children and disabled should be avoided. She instructed that the media platforms involved for live broadcast of Majalis should ensure that there was no crowd.
Establishment of special vaccination camps would be ensured from the first of Muharram for the unvaccinated. She stressed that the gatherings should be held in open and ventilated areas. Social distancing of six feet was mandatory along with thermal screening of individuals at entrances, she said.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2021