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ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) Wednesday issued a fresh warning to business owners, asking them to shut down before or by 10pm.

According to a notification issued here by the NCOC, the decision is aimed to curb the further spread of an already rising number of coronavirus infections and pertains to: restaurants, wedding halls, commercial markets, and shopping malls. It further said that recreational spots had been asked to shut down by 6pm. Essential services such as medical stores, clinics and hospitals will remain open. The development comes on the back of an announcement made by the NCOC earlier in the day, mandating the use of masks by all citizens across the country, in all public spaces, citing a rising number of coronavirus cases. To that end, it is now compulsory for everyone to wear masks in government and private offices as well as in markets and shopping malls.

The country's coronavirus nerve centre shared that so far authorities have imposed 4,374 lockdowns in 11 cities of Pakistan.

The country reported 874 cases and 14 deaths due to the coronavirus in past 24 hours.

Early this month, the NCOC had said that it had observed wedding halls and indoor restaurants to be "high contributors" to the spread of the contagious disease. Following the observation, on October 9, the body issued new guidelines for wedding halls, saying that it was officially restricting the number of guests and limiting functions till 10pm.

For indoor events, a maximum of 300 guests have been allowed and for outdoor events, a maximum of 500 guests, with the gathering to only last two hours. The statement said that if wedding halls were found to be in violation of the SOPs then they would be closed off at a “specified time” and a heavy fine would also be imposed.

It further said that the closure of SOPs-defying wedding halls would come into effect two weeks after the notices were served, so people get “sufficient time” to search for alternate venues.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020