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Easing Restrictions

by Newsweek Pakistan
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File Photo. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Sindh, Punjab announce list of businesses exempt from movement restrictions extended for two weeks

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday announced that the federal government was immediately resuming construction activities and exempting several sectors from the movement restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, prompting the Punjab and Sindh governments to issue notifications identifying which sectors will remain under lockdown.

Yesterday, Khan announced that the nationwide lockdown imposed on shopping malls, mosques, restaurants and public and private offices had been extended by two weeks in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, he said that the government was easing the restrictions, and exempting several industries to aid laborers who had been without salaries while work was stopped.

Punjab

According to a notification issued by the Punjab government, schools, banquet halls, markets, shopping malls, restaurants and public and private offices would remain closed, as would public transport. It has also maintained a ban on large gatherings, including religious congregations.

The exemptions to these orders in Punjab are: government officials; law enforcement agencies; utility companies; public and private mobile phone companies; defense-related manufacturing industries; microfinance institutions; ration distribution centers; diplomats and related staff; healthcare professionals; unavoidable religious rites such as funeral prayers; call centers; banks; restaurants offering delivery or take away service; grocery stores, general stores, bakeries, dairy shops, poultry shops, tandoors, petrol pumps, driver hotels, spare parts shops; LPG outlets and their supply lines; postal/courier services; registered welfare and charitable organizations; food manufacturers; dry port operations and customs services; feed mills; personal protective equipment manufacturers; food packaging and distribution industries; personal hygiene/sanitizer manufacturers; oil and gas companies’ exploration and production movement; all operations of Fauji Fertilizer and Mari Petroleum and all related staff; seed, fertilizer and pesticides shops; tractor/harvester/thresher dealers, manufacturers and spare parts outlets; industries linked to the pharmaceutical sector; soda ash industry; cement manufacturing; dry cleaners and laundries; transformer manufacturing; lawyers; media persons and newspaper hawkers; NESPAK; and export-oriented industries.

In addition, the province is also exempting all the industries listed by the federal government, including chemical industries, software developers; electricians, plumbers, carpenters, tailors; veterinary services; real estate offices; bookshops; glass manufacturing units; paper and packaging; horticulture nurseries; mines and minerals; construction activities; architects and engineers.

According to the Punjab government notification, a maximum of two people will be allowed to leave their homes for essential items, though this number can be increased to three in case of disabilities or illness. Similarly, they have required social distancing for all exemptions, and have instructed department stores to only keep their grocery and pharmacy sections open.

Essential commodity shops, such as groceries, and workshops and vendors will only be allowed to operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; while milk and poultry shops will be allowed to be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Only petrol pumps, LPG outlets, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors, call centers, delivery/take-away and medical services will be allowed to operate after 8 p.m.

The order is set to expire on April 25, which is when Ramzan is expected to begin.

Sindh

In Sindh, as in Punjab, schools, banquet halls, markets, shopping malls, restaurants and public and private offices would remain closed, as would public transport. The ban on large gatherings, including religious congregations, has also been retained.

The province has relaxed restrictions on restaurants, allowing delivery services though take away is still banned.

It has also decided to close all shops, including medical stores within malls or superstores, from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Petrol pumps within city limits would also be closed between those hours. Exemptions to this are people seeking medical care; law enforcement personnel; healthcare providers; technical and municipal staff; goods transporters; and charity organizations. Newspaper and milk/dairy distributors are allowed to commence operations from 5 a.m.

As in Punjab, Sindh has also limited motorists to a maximum of two persons in one vehicle—one if on motorcycle, though this can be raised to two if the second person is a female member of the family.

The exemptions to this order are: food and related shops/manufacturers/distributors, including seeds, fertilizers and pesticides; agriculture related activities such as harvesting, tractors, repair shops; healthcare services; electricity, gas, oil, LPG, power generation; essential municipal services; goods transport; welfare organizations; public and private cellular companies and their technical staff; call centers and customer support; banks; newspaper and textbook printers, transporters and distributors; port operations; media persons; railway freight; postal/courier services; government officials; law enforcement agencies; defense services and SECP-related activities.

The government has also allowed certain companies to resume operations if they adopt certain Standard Operating Procedures designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus: construction; e-commerce; energy-related; export-oriented industries; industries with labor housed on-site; industries with low labor forces in rural areas; paper and packaging; plumber, carpenters and electricians; dry cleaners and laundries; botanical gardens; veterinary services; software/programming; glass manufacturers; and bookshops/stationary shops.

The order in Sindh is set to expire on April 30.

The Government of Pakistan on Tuesday announced that it was easing the ongoing movement restrictions and opening up several industries, but would maintain bans on large public gatherings, schools, shopping centers, and public transport. Announcing the measures, Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed the country was stuck between “hunger on one side, and corona on the other,” and had opted to resume economic activity to aid daily wagers and laborers.

The federal government also announced that it would soon issue an ordinance with a stimulus package for the construction industry the “likes of which have never been seen in Pakistan before.”

Pakistan currently has 5,988 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 107 deaths and 1,446 recoveries. Punjab (2,945) and Sindh (1,518) have the most cases in the country.

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