Starting Sept. 30, all air travel will be banned for those who haven’t been fully vaccinated, while motorways/highways will also be restricted to inoculated
Pakistan will bar air travel—both domestic and international—for any citizens who are not fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus by Sept. 30, announced Planning Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference alongside Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan, the minister—who also chairs the National Command and Operation Center overseeing the national response to the pandemic—said that the government had decided on additional restrictions for the unvaccinated to ensure public health and safety. “No one can be allowed to endanger other people’s lives [by opting out of vaccination],” he said, stressing that everyone was now aware of the importance of getting inoculated.
“Vaccinations are freely available in thousands of centers nationwide; there is also the option of mobile vaccination,” he said, adding that no one had an excuse to avoid getting jabbed.
According to Umar, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals would face the following restrictions in the coming months:
- All air travel—domestic and international—will be barred for people who haven’t been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 30. This would apply to both incoming and outgoing travelers
- Any individuals employed by educational institutions, including transport, are required to get fully vaccinated by Sept. 30 and should have received at least one dose by Aug. 31
- Both customers and staff of shopping malls would be barred entry if they haven’t been fully vaccinated by Sept. 30 or partially vaccinated by Aug. 31
- Hotel, wedding halls and restaurant staff and customers are required to get their first dose of vaccination by Aug. 31 and be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30
- For students, the government is reducing the minimum age for vaccination to 17. All 17 and older students are required to get at least one dose by Sept. 15 and be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. Anyone who isn’t inoculated by Oct. 15 will not be permitted to continue their studies
- Employees and customers of public transport services, including bus and rail, are required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15 and have received at least one dose by Sept. 15
- People wishing to utilize motorways are required to be partially vaccinated by Sept. 15 and fully vaccinated by Oct. 15; for other highways of the country, partial vaccination needed by Sept. 30 and full by Oct. 31
Addressing the same press conference, Dr. Sultan said that the NCOC had decided to reduce the minimum age for vaccination to 17 years old from Sept. 1. “We are also working on plans for children aged 15-17, but the date for launch of their vaccinations will be announced later,” he said.
Additionally, he said, immunocompromised people over 12 could also get vaccinated from Sept. 1 but stressed this would only occur at designated vaccination centers “to allow for checking of their medical reports.”
Addressing the increasing requirement for many international travelers to secure vaccines that are acceptable to their destination nations, the SAPM said they would be allowed to get specific vaccines from Sept. 1 if they had valid visas. “They will also need to pay for these vaccines,” he said, claiming these charges were being implemented because these vaccines were not “medically necessary.”
Dr. Sultan also said that the NCOC was considering—but had not decided to implement—booster shots for frontline healthcare workers under 50 and immunocompromised individuals. He urged citizens to download and install vaccine wallets apps produced by NADRA and the NCOC to allow for easy verification of their vaccination status.
The SAPM said that from Aug. 26, individuals who had gotten vaccinated outside Pakistan could get their status registered with NADRA. He also emphasized the police were taking action against individuals found either providing or availing fake vaccination certificates, claiming these people were guilty of fraud.
Pakistan is currently in the midst of a fourth wave of the coronavirus, with authorities stressing that the only solution to the pandemic is mass vaccinations. Thus far, according to the NCOC, 13.4 million have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 46.5 million doses have been administered nationwide. This is a far cry from the government’s stated goal of vaccinating 40 percent of the country’s population by Aug. 31, shedding light on the new push to boost vaccination numbers through penalties.