NCOC increases operational hours of businesses, allows limited indoor dining, reopens cinemas and shrines
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), which governs Pakistan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, on Monday announced it was further easing restrictions imposed to curb its spread, including increasing operational hours of businesses and allowing shrines and cinemas to reopen nationwide.
A special session of the NCOC, co-chaired by Planning Minister Asad Umar and National Coordinator Lt. Gen. Hamooduz Zaman Khan in Islamabad, decided that from July 1 business centers would be allowed to remain open till 10 p.m. daily, up from the 8 p.m. limit that had been imposed earlier. Essential businesses such as petrol pumps, pharmacies and takeaway services, it said, would be allowed to remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The forum also announced that there would be no limits on outdoor dining at restaurants, while indoor dining would be allowed to resume at 50 percent capacity. Restaurant and hotel management would be required to develop a mechanism to check the vaccination certificates of customers, it said, and would also have to ensure vaccination of their management and staff.
Revising its guidelines for wedding receptions, the NCOC said that outdoor wedding ceremonies of up to 400 people would be permitted, while indoor ceremonies of up to 200 fully vaccinated people could also resume. Similar to the guidelines for restaurants, wedding hall associations and management have been tasked with devising a plan to check vaccination certificates of all guests, as well as ensure all staff is fully vaccinated.
Cinemas and offices
The NCOC has allowed federating units to decide when they want to reopen shrines, stressing that strict adherence to standard operating procedures must be ensured. It has also permitted cinemas to reopen till 1 a.m. with strict protocols—and only for fully vaccinated people. However, a ban on all types of indoor and outdoor gatherings related to cultural, musical or religious events would continue.
All public and private offices are allowed to continue operations with full attendance of staff and routine working hours, read the NCOC statement, adding one “closed day” would be implemented weekly at the discretion of the federal unit.
The forum said that it would soon issue a policy on tourism, and allowed all public transport, including railways, to operate at 70 percent occupancy with strict COVID-19 SOPs.
Gyms have been allowed to reopen for fully vaccinated customers and staff, though a ban on contact sports such as karate, boxing, martial arts, rugby, water polo, kabaddi, and wrestling would continue.
The NCOC said that targeted lockdowns in areas with high incidence of the coronavirus would continue as and when required. It stressed these would be implemented by local administrations.