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ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), on Wednesday, announced lifting of a number of restrictions imposed amid coronavirus pandemic in the country by allowing staggered opening of educational institutes in districts with less than five percent positivity and resumption of outdoor dining from May 24.

The NCOC session was held under the chairmanship of Asad Umar and co-chaired by Lt General Hamooduz Zaman Khan.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Sindh health minister, and chief secretaries of all the provinces attended the meeting via video link.

A statement issued after the meeting, stated that a detailed review of disease prevalence in the country and corresponding NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions] was taken.

The sectors that have been allowed to reopen from 24th of May included outdoor restaurants to be opened daily till 23:59 hours; takeaways would be allowed 24/7; opening of tourism sector under stringent Covid-19 protocols, while separate instructions on protocols would be issued to all federating units; and staggered opening of educational institutes in districts with less than five percent positivity rate.

The sectors opening from 1st June, subject to review on 27th May, it stated that outdoor marriage ceremonies with maximum 150 Individuals will be allowed and staggered opening of education sector from 7th June [other than those opened from 24th May].

However, the NCOC stated that the following sectors would continue to remain closed till further review including shrines, cinemas, indoor dining, indoor gyms, amusement parks (however, walking/jogging tracks will remain open with strict adherence of Covid-19 SOPs), complete ban on contact sports, festivals, cultural and other events; ban on all types of indoor/ outdoor gatherings (cultural, musical/ religious/ miscellaneous events).

The NCOC further decided that the inter-provincial public transport on Saturday and Sunday with effect from Saturday will continue to remain closed till further review.

It further decided continued compliance to compulsory mask wearing while incorporating innovative measures for enforcement; implementation of broader lockdowns with stringent enforcement protocols based on risk assessment; continuation of current in-bound and land border policy till further orders; Gadani and Misri Shah Industry will be re-opened from 20 May; elective surgeries will be reopened from 1st June.

The NCOC decided that all Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) examinations will be held after 20th of the next month.

However, conduct of all professional and non-professional examinations will take place on case-to-case basis.

Sectors that have already been allowed to reopen from 17th May included resumption of normal office working hours with 50 percent strength (50 percent work from home), resumption of market activities with closure by 08:00 pm (less essential services including export-related sector), public transport with 50 percent capacity, railways to operate with 70 percent occupancy and two days as closed days during a week.

It further stated that a detailed review of NPIs will be carried out on 27th May and 7th June respectively.

A critical monitoring of disease prevalence and Critical Health Care System is being carried out on daily basis, and necessary steps will be taken accordingly, whenever deem appropriate to control the disease spread, it added.

Meanwhile, according to the NCOC data, 104 more deaths due to coronavirus infection and 3,256 new positive cases were reported in the country during the last 24 hours.

According to the statistics, 41,771 tests were conducted, while positivity ratio remained 7.79 percent.

The death toll due to pandemic in the country has now reached 19,856.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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