- Markets to be allowed to re-open from 10am to 8pm, say officials privy to the development
- Wedding ceremonies with 200 guests to be allowed as well
- Restaurants to be permitted to serve outdoors
Sindh is set to lift its lockdown restrictions from August 9, a decision that comes after a joint meeting of the provincial government with officials of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) in Karachi on Saturday.
A statement issued by the NCOC said that Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar, who is also the NCOC head, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, and several other officials attended the session.
"The disease situation in Sindh, particularly in Karachi, was discussed at length. The need for better coordination and enhanced interaction at all levels was emphasised," a press released issued after the meeting said.
The joint session also decided that non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) issued by the NCOC for high-risk cities, including Karachi and Hyderabad, will be enforced. NPIs are actions, apart from getting vaccinated, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses. They are also known as community mitigation strategies.
The meeting also decided that the reopening of schools and exams in the province will be discussed at the next Inter-Provincial Education Ministerial Conference.
"Special emphasis was laid on the implementation of SOPs/NPIs, especially in the wake of Muharram and lifting of the lockdown from August 9 onwards,” the statement added.
Officials privy to the development said that business activities will be restored. Restaurants will be allowed to serve outdoors, and a notification is likely to be issued on Sunday, added the officials.
It was also decided that 'smart lockdowns' in high disease prevalence areas will be enforced to curtail the spread of the virus.
Officials said that markets will remain open from 10am to 8pm. The forum also decided to allow wedding ceremonies.
"A ceremony for 200 people can be held, provided SOPs are followed," added the officials. It was decided that businesses violating Covid-19 SOPs can be sealed for 15 days to one month.
Earlier, the federal government had criticised the Sindh government's move to impose a lockdown, saying that the decision will impact the country's economy.
Last week, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that the decision to impose a lockdown will only increase the plights of the common man, adding that the province is the jugular vein of Pakistan's economy.
“The province is the jugular vein of Pakistan's economy and when it’s improving, you are talking about imposing a lockdown,” the minister complained.
Fawad also said that no provincial government should bypass the directions of the federal government and the NCOC when it comes to containing the spread of the coronavirus.
In a separate statement, Umar had said that complete lockdown is not the solution even as Sindh, especially provincial capital Karachi, recorded a surge in coronavirus cases.
Pakistan lost 95 people to the novel coronavirus during the last 24 hours, the highest death toll recorded in a single day since May 20, when 102 fatalities were reported.
The country's death toll has now increased to 23,797 as Pakistan rushes to curb the spread of the deadly Delta variant.
During the last 24 hours, 57,233 tests were conducted out of which 4,720 came out positive. So far, 1,063,125 cases have been confirmed in Pakistan since the outbreak of the novel virus last year.
The positivity ratio was recorded at 8.24% on August 6 as the country sees a surge in its active Covid-19 cases as compared to the previous waves.
During the last 24 hours, the active number of cases rose to 79,837. The critical number of cases rose to 4,275 after the condition of 118 more patients deteriorated in the last 24 hours.
Pakistan plans to inoculate 40 percent of the population in big cities by the end of August and 70 million by the end of this year. It has also committed to spending $1.1 billion on procuring the Covid-19 vaccine to inoculate its people.
The Sindh government had earlier imposed what it called a 'partial' lockdown in the wake of a surge in coronavirus cases from July 31 (Saturday) till August 8. The decision was taken in a meeting of the Provincial Corona Task Force, chaired by CM Murad, who later said that this lockdown is partial, and not like the one imposed earlier.