Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday approved a five-day holiday on account of Eidul Azha, which will be celebrated on July 10, according to a statement issued by the PM's Office.

"The prime minister has seen and is pleased to approve the Eid-ul-Azha holidays from 8th July to 12th July (Friday to Tuesday)," the statement said.

The Cabinet Division is now expected to notify the holidays in a separate notification.

The Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee chairman Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad had on June 29 announced the commencement of the month of Zilhaj from July 1, with Eid falling on July 10.

Azad had stressed that a message of unity should be taken forward. The chairman then held prayers for peace and stability in the country.

On June 29, Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel noted that Covid cases in Pakistan had been rising and called on the public to be cautious during the upcoming Eidul Azha holidays.

For this purpose, the government is proposing three standard operating procedures (SOPs) that need to be "followed religiously", he said. "We have made masks mandatory in all closed gatherings, airlines, railways and public transport. Social distancing and proper sanitisation are also very important."

Patel cautioned that Eidul Azha and Muharram were coming up during which large public gatherings are typically held. "We are mulling over strategies for these occasions as well, as the threat of coronavirus cases rising persists during these months,” he said.

He added that the government has also decided to increase mass testing across the country on the orders of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for which instructions had been sent to the health secretaries of all four provinces.

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