As Punjab authorities imposed an emergency in the province due to smog, a traders’ body on Friday accused the police of forcing businesses to close in Lahore, which they alleged were in defiance of government directives.

Parts of Punjab have been enveloped in smog, which contains unhealthy PM2.5 at much higher levels than the WHO annual air quality guidelines, according to IQAir.

Earlier this week, the provincial government declared a smog lockdown as part of its “environmental and health emergency” in eight cities — Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Sialkot, and Narowal — all of which have had Air Quality Index (AQI) readings beyond safe limits.

However, in a revised notification issued on Thursday, the Lahore administration granted permission for city markets and shopping centres to open today (Friday), while affirming a complete closure of businesses on Saturday and Sunday.

Today, trade body All Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran (APAT) leader Naeem Mir said the APAT met with the Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa, where they agreed to keep businesses open on Nov 9 and Nov 10. He added that they had agreed to shut the markets on Nov 11 and 12.

However, he claimed that police arrived in various markets, and told shopkeepers to close up, which he said was a “clear violation of the understanding between traders and the Lahore commissioner”.

Mir also alleged that the government had pledged to lift the lockdown if it rained. He demanded the authorities to honour their commitment — given that it had rained in the city and the AQI had improved as a result — and immediately announce an end to the lockdown.

According to the government notification, the markets will be completely closed on Saturday and Sunday. The banks, government and private offices, all educational institutions and parks will remain closed on Nov 10, 11 and 12.

Alongside business centres, the notification said areas that were exempt from the lockdowns were pharmacies, medical facilities and vaccination centres, petrol pumps, oil depots, tandoors, bakeries, grocery stores, dairy shops, sweet shops, fruit and vegetable shops, meat shops, e-commerce, postal, courier services and utility services, international IT centres and call centres.

According to a Dawn report, Lahore Commissioner Randhawa had said at a meeting on Thursday that police had been ordered to keep the traffic as low as possible.

He had said the government also requested the traders to voluntarily close markets on Friday, as the notification would only be applicable to them for Saturday and Sunday.

According to him, the citizens could contact the deputy commissioner’s office if they encountered any issues.

On the other hand, the AQI index of Lahore improved to 80 at Jail Road today after a spell of rain in the provincial metropolis, according to .

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