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LAHORE: In the wake of surge in coronavirus cases, the Punjab government on Saturday re-enforced Covid-19 restrictions including closure of business activities, establishments and markets by 6 pm on working days from Monday to Friday and complete closure on Saturday and Sunday, restrictions on entry in shrines and sports activities besides marriage ceremonies and indoor dining.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar in a tweet said that Covid-19 cases, especially the UK variant, were spreading across the province.

"As per advice of health experts, we have decided to implement strict coronavirus SOPs from Saturday night in districts with over five percent positivity rate for the next 15 days," he said.

The Punjab Health Department has also issued a notification on Saturday detailing the restrictions and Covid-19 situation across the province.

"The positivity rate in some cities is constantly rising and third wave is looming, which poses a serious and imminent threat to public health," the notification said, adding: "These restrictions are being put in place under the Punjab Infectious Diseases (Prevention and Control) Act 2020."

As per notification, all commercial activities, establishments and markets will close by 6 pm on five days and completely shut down on Saturday and Sunday. However, this excludes medical services, general stores, bakeries, milk and meat shops, tyre puncture shops, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors, petrol pumps, oil depots, LPG outlets and filing plants, agriculture machinery workshops and spare parts shops, printing press, call centers (with 50 percent staff and no public dealing). Takeaway and home delivery from restaurants will remain open.

As per notification, wedding halls will remain closed in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and Gujrat. Only outdoor functions will be allowed with a maximum of 300 guests. There will be a complete ban on indoor and outdoor dining in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and Gujrat, and only takeaway/ home delivery will be allowed in these cities. Parks will close at 6 pm; offices are to follow a 50 percent work from home policy while cinemas and shrines will stay closed.

The Punjab Auqaf Department announced on Saturday that Lahore's Data Darbar and other shrines have been closed for devotees due to the rising number of coronavirus cases.

The Auqaf department spokesman said that in total, 547 shrines located across the province have been closed to stem the rising coronavirus cases. He added that the shrines will be closed till April 15.

The manager of the Data Darbar said the shrine's mosque will only open for prayers. He added that all the coronavirus standard operating procedures will be followed during the prayers.

Traders have rejected the government's directive for the closure of markets for two days and said this would not help control the rush in the markets.

All Pakistan Anjuman Tajran Secretary General Naeem Mir told media that the government should keep open the markets on all days, so that the rush in the business centres can be managed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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