NCOC meeting decides to implement broader lockdowns, orders complete ban on festivals and cultural activities
Pakistan’s National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Monday revised the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus, adding that the new guidelines would remain in place from March 22 to April 11.
“In the NCOC meeting this morning we decided to increase restrictions of activities contributing to sharp increase in COVID positivity,” Planning Minister Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, announced on Twitter. “The provincial and Islamabad administrations were also directed to tighten implementation of SOPs and crackdown on violations, which are taking place,” he added.
According to a notification issued later, the forum expressed “grave concern” over the prevailing situation, and decided to implement harsher restrictions in areas reporting positivity ratios greater than 8 percent. For areas with positivity of 8 percent or lower, existing non-pharmaceutical interventions would continue.
Under the new guidelines, the following measures would be implemented nationwide:
- Implementation of broader lockdowns with stringent enforcement that would ban all mobility except for emergencies.
- Closure of all types of indoor dining. Outdoor dining would be permitted till 10 p.m. and takeaway orders would be allowed 24 hours a day.
- Closure of all commercial activities by 8 p.m.
- Two “safe” days per week when all businesses would be shuttered, with each federating unit free to decide what days they would avail.
- Complete closure of cinemas and shrines would continue to be enforced
- Complete ban on contact sports, festivals, and similar cultural events.
- Complete closure of parks, through running/jogging tracks would be allowed to remain open
- 50 percent work-from-home policy to continue for all public and private offices as well as courts.
- Intercity public transport to operate at 50 percent capacity.
- Rail services to operate at 70 percent capacity.
- Reduced presence at all courts.
- Stringent enforcement of protocols for tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan-administered Kashmir and similar attractions. Testing sites to be established at selected points at tourist destinations.
- Mass media coverage highlighting punitive actions for people who violate SOPs
- Complete ban on indoor gatherings of all kinds, but outdoor events with a maximum of 300 peoples to be allowed with strict adherence to SOPs. This would also apply to weddings, which would need to be wrapped up by 10 p.m. and span no more than two hours.
- Compulsory mask compliance to be ensured nationwide while incorporating “innovative” measures for enforcement.
According to the NCOC, a special meeting would review the restrictions imposed on the education sector on March 24 and decide whether to expand or reduce them.
Pakistan reported a national positivity ratio of 8.43 percent on Monday, with Punjab province recording the highest ratio of all federating units at 10.77 percent.