Cities/districts with positivity higher than 10% to face harsher curbs, including bans on indoor dining, wedding receptions, and staggered classes for students under-12
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Wednesday issued revised guidelines for various sectors in a bid to curb the spread of the fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, as nationwide infections continue to surge due to the Omicron variant.
The new guidelines were agreed upon after consultation with all stakeholders, read a statement issued by the forum overseeing the national response to the pandemic. “The forum took a detailed review of current disease situation in the country and corresponding non-pharmaceutical interventions,” it said, adding that all federating units had been consulted on the new SOPs [standard operating procedures].
The revised preventative measures would be implemented from Jan. 20-31, with the NCOC to review the situation on Jan. 27. The sole exception to this, it said, it the wedding industry, restrictions on which would remain effective until Feb. 15. It also stressed that from Feb. 1, all students over 12 would be required to be at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, adding that randomized testing would be conducted and targeted closures imposed on educational institutions with high disease prevalence.
The new guidelines have been divided between cities and districts with COVID positivity up to 10 percent, and those whose positivity is higher than 10 percent.
Guidelines for cities/districts with positivity over 10%:
- Total ban on all indoor gatherings, including weddings, with effect from Jan. 24. Outdoor events would be allowed for fully vaccinated individuals, with weddings restricted to 300 people and other gatherings to 500.
- Total ban on indoor dining, with effective from Jan. 24. Outdoor dining would be allowed for fully vaccinated people, while takeaways would be permitted 24/7.
- Indoor gyms, cinemas, shrines and amusement parks would be allowed to operate with 50% capacity for fully vaccinated individuals.
- Total ban on contact sports, such as Karate, Rugby, Water Polo, Kabaddi, and Wrestling
- Classes for students under 12 would continue to operate with 50% attendance on staggered days, while 100% attendance would be mandated for fully vaccinated students over 12
Guidelines for cities/districts with positivity up to 10%:
- Indoor gatherings, including weddings, allowed with up to 300 fully vaccinated individuals; outdoor with 500.
- Indoor and outdoor dining allowed for fully vaccinated individuals with no other restrictions
- Indoor gyms, cinemas, shrines, and amusement parks to remain open for fully vaccinated individuals.
- All sports activities permitted for fully vaccinated people
- All educational institutions to remain operational “with stringent COVID protocols”
Additionally, the following guidelines have been imposed nationwide, regardless of the positivity ratio:
- All markets and businesses would be allowed to continue without any restrictions, while offices would proceed with 100% attendance of fully vaccinated employees, though “work from home is encouraged.”
- Public transport, with effect from Jan. 20, would operate at 70% occupancy with full mask compliance and continued ban on any form on meals/snacks. Railways, from Jan. 24, would operate at 80% occupancy of fully vaccinated individuals, with masks essential for the duration of travel
- Complete ban on meals/beverages during domestic air travel
Pakistan on Wednesday reported 5,472 new infections of COVID-19 after conducting 57,669 tests—a positivity ratio of 9.49%. Sindh province leads the federating units, with 18.3% positivity, followed by 11.8% in Islamabad; 5.3% in Punjab; 2.14% in Khyber-Pakhtunkwha; and 1.4% in Balochistan. Of the major cities, Karachi has crossed 40% positivity; Lahore stands at 15.15%; Muzaffarabad at 21.43%; Hyderabad 13.98%; Peshawar 10.68%; and Rawalpindi 10.26%.