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Pakistan Announces Further Easing of COVID-19 Restrictions

by Newsweek Pakistan

Courtesy PID

NCOC announces end to 50 percent office attendance from June 15 and commencement of walk-in vaccinations for adults over 18 from Friday

The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Wednesday announced further easing of restrictions imposed to curb mobility and the spread of the novel coronavirus, including allowing offices to end the practice of 50 percent staff attendance, and the enforcement of only one “closed day” for businesses.

In a statement issued after a meeting of the forum overseeing the national response to the coronavirus pandemic, it said that the rolling back of existing curbs would commence from June 15 and was being undertaken in view of the declining incidence of the pandemic nationwide. The easing of various sectors is as follows:

  • One “closed day” for all business activities per week rather than the two “closed days” that were required previously
  • 50 percent mandatory work-from-home policy for offices to end and 100 percent employees allowed to return to in-person work
  • Indoor gyms to reopen—but only for fully vaccinated individuals
  • A select number of non-contact sports to return to normal. However, bans on contact sports such as karate, wrestling, kabbadi will continue. Restrictions on festivals, cultural events and other similar gatherings will also continue
  • Closures of shrines and cinemas to continue until further notice
  • Interprovincial transport, banned for two days every week, to be allowed to resume normal operations 7 days a week
  • Public transport to be allowed to operate at 70 percent occupancy, rather than the earlier 50 percent

“Current restrictions already announced by NCOC regarding recreation, education sector, mask-wearing SOPs, and the Railways and inbound passengers policy will remain in place till further orders,” the statement stressed.

Vaccination drive

The NCOC also announced that it was commencing walk-in vaccinations for all adult citizens over-18 from this Friday, June 11. “From June 11 onwards 18 years+ citizens will be able to avail the walk-in facility in vaccination centers,” it said, adding that the ongoing vaccination campaign would continue under a three-pronged strategy:

  • Voluntarily vaccination by all citizens.
  • Mandatory vaccinations for public and private sector employees, with all public sector employees required to get themselves vaccinated by June 30
  • Incentivized vaccinations, with the NCOC to announce specifics for various sectors at a later date

According to the NCOC, all vaccination centers would remain open six days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. starting June 11, with Sundays off. It stressed that all centers would remain open on Fridays.

Pakistan’s national positivity ratio for the coronavirus has been reported at less than 3 percent for two days now, with the government hailing the development as a success of the harsh restrictions imposed ahead of Eidul Fitr, as well as the cooperation of the citizenry in adhering to SOPs. The government has vowed to ramp up its vaccination drive, stressing that the threat from COVID-19 has not yet passed, but can be overcome if a sufficient number of people get themselves vaccinated.

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