After the Sindh government implemented shorter operational hours for commercial markets last week, the Punjab government on Sunday announced that it had also decided to order the closure of markets and shopping malls at 9 p.m. from Monday (today) in a bid to reduce the electricity shortfall and reduce the country’s import bill.
According to a notification issued by the Punjab Home Department, the measure comes into effect from today (June 20), and would remain in place until further notice. “All shops, including wholesale or retails, shopping malls, bakeries and confectionaries, offices, store rooms, warehouses or places of works, whether in the same premises or otherwise mainly used in connection with such trade or business and meeting/ gathering places will remain close[d] at 9 p.m.,” read the notification, adding that marriage halls would be allowed to remain open until 10 p.m.
“All establishments commercial or industrial, restaurants, clubs, tandoors, eating houses, cafes, cinemas, theaters, circus houses or other places of public amusement or entertainment will also [be closed] at 11:30 p.m.,” it said, adding that pharmacies and medical stores, hospitals and laboratories, petrol pumps, CNG stations, and tyre repair shops would be exempt from this restriction.
“Service areas on motorways and roadside shops on highways and milk shops will also be exempted from this condition,” it added.
The provincial government has claimed that it has taken this step in consultation with the business community to conserve energy, however several traders and leading businessmen have voiced their displeasure, maintaining that their consumers prefer to shop during the night hours.
In a press conference, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz assured traders they would be granted special consideration on Saturdays—when the rules would not apply. Similarly, he said, the timings would be reviewed ahead of Eidul Azha “in consultation with traders.” He also thanked the trader community for supporting the government’s measures to overcome the energy crisis.
On Sunday, Islamabad also announced it was limiting the operational hours of markets, shopping malls, wedding halls and restaurants to tackle the prevailing energy crisis. In a notification shared by Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Irfan Nawaz Memon, all shops, shopping malls, bakeries and confectionaries, offices, storerooms, godowns, warehouses and cattle markets have been directed to close at 9 p.m. Further, the timings of marriage halls, marquees and exhibition halls would be limited to 10 p.m.
According to the notification, all commercial or industrial establishments, restaurants, clubs, tandoors, eateries, cafes, cinemas, theatres or other places of public amusement and public parks would close at 11:30 p.m. However, hospitals and laboratories, clinics, pharmacies and medical stores, petrol pumps, milk shops and other essential businesses are exempt.
The conservation measures, read the notification, would remain in place for two months.