Latest guidelines require all commercial sectors to shutter at 10 p.m., fine citizens who don’t wear masks in public
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Wednesday issued a notification directing all commercial sectors in 11 cities of Pakistan to shutter their operations by 10 p.m. in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Due to consistent increase in positivity percentage and disease prevalence during last two weeks, NCOC has decided” to implement restrictions in cities with more than 2 percent positivity, read the notification. Around 80 percent of all COVID-19 cases are reported from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Peshawar and Quetta, it said.
Under the new guidelines, which go into effect from today (Thursday), all residents of these cities are bound to adhere to the following directions:
- Mandatory face masks in all confined spaces, including indoors, public transport, markets
- closure of all commercial activities, including markets, shopping malls, marriage halls, restaurants at 10 p.m. daily; and amusement/public parks at 6 p.m. daily. This will not apply to “essential services” such as medical stores and hospitals.
The NCOC also said that anyone not wearing masks in public places could be fined from Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 35,000, and could also be punished with six months’ imprisonment; this measure will come into force from next week after the Eid Miladun Nabi celebrations.
“After more than 70 days the national COVID positivity ratio was higher than 3% yesterday,” Planning Minister Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, posted on Twitter. “NCOC has tightened restrictions on some high-risk public activities. However, the rising spread of the disease can only be controlled if people believe in the need for precautions,” he added.
Also on Wednesday, the Islamabad district administration declared the wearing of masks in public places mandatory by imposing Section 144 under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898. According to a notification, the order will remain in place for two months and strict action will be taken against violators.
On Tuesday, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan had warned that strict coronavirus restrictions were now “inevitable,” as COVID-19 deaths and daily infections were on the rise across Pakistan. He said that the public was not adopting precautionary measures, and urged everyone to wear face masks, as the pandemic is far from over.