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Punjab Expands Restrictions Amid Surge of Coronavirus Infections

by Newsweek Pakistan
Citizens wearing face masks as part of social distancing guidelines

File photo

Provincial government issues new guidelines, including ban on dining at restaurants and end to all commercial activities by 6 p.m.

The Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department on Saturday issued revised guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, as several cities of the province continue to report a high positivity rate that poses “a serious and imminent threat to public health.”

In an official notification issued to media, the health department said that the restrictions were being imposed under the Punjab Infectious Diseases (Prevention and Control) Act 2020. The new guidelines are as follows:

  • All commercial activities, establishments and markets throughout the province would close by 6 p.m. on weekdays and remain shut on weekends.
  • Medical services, pharmacies, general stores, bakeries, milk and meat shops, tire puncture shops, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors, petrol pumps, oil depots, LPG outlets and filling plants, agriculture machinery workshops and spare parts shops, printing press, and call centers (with 50 percent staff and no public interaction) are allowed to remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Takeaway and home delivery from restaurants would remain open, but there would be a complete ban on indoor and outdoor dining in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and Gujrat, where only takeaway/home delivery would be allowed.
  • All types of wedding/event halls would stay closed in Lahore, Rawalpindi. Sargodha, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and Gujrat from March 15. Outdoor functions would be permitted so long as they are restricted to 300 guests and implement COVID-19 SOPs
  • All parks would close at 6 p.m. daily
  • All citizens would be required to wear masks in all public places
  • All public/private offices would adopt a policy of work-from-home for 50 percent of their staff throughout the province
  • Cinemas and shrines would remain shut until further notice
  • There would be a complete ban on all types of indoor gatherings, but outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 50 people would be allowed in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, and Gujrat. In the rest of the province, outdoor events with a maximum of 300 people are permitted so long as they don’t exceed a duration of 2 hours
  • All types of sports and cultural activities would remain banned throughout the province
  • Industrial activities and establishments are exempt from all these restrictions

The notification directed district administration and police to cooperate in ensuring the strict implementation of the new guidelines. It said that the order would remain in force from March 13 to March 29.

Earlier this week, Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid had warned that four cities of Punjab—Lahore, Jhelum, Okara, Gujrat—were facing a surge of coronavirus cases of a variant that was first identified in the U.K. The mutated variant is reportedly more infectious and deadlier than the original strain of COVID-19.

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