New guidelines to remain in place till Aug. 31, with authorities warning that another lockdown may be imposed if cases surge once again
The Sindh government on Sunday announced an end to its nine-day ‘partial’ lockdown from today (Monday), replacing it with a slew of mobility restrictions that will stay in place until Aug. 31 in line with the recommendations of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC).
The provincial government’s revised guidelines are as follows:
- Markets, shopping malls to remain open till 8 p.m. daily, with the exception of pharmacies, medical stores, vaccination centers, petrol pumps, milk shops, and tandoors, which can remain open 24 hours.
- All businesses to have two “closed days”—Friday and Sunday
- Indoor dining completely banned, but outdoor dining will be allowed until 10 p.m. daily for up to 300 people. Takeaway and home delivery of food is allowed 24 hours per day, with government directives for employers to ensure restaurant staff and delivery personnel are fully vaccinated.
- Indoor weddings have been banned, but outdoor functions can continue with a maximum of 300 guests till 10 p.m.
- Shrines and cinemas have been shuttered; all forms of indoor gatherings, including cultural, musical and religious events have also been prohibited
- Outdoor gatherings allowed with a maximum of 300 guests amidst the strict enforcement of safety protocols.
- Gyms are restricted to fully vaccinated individuals, while all contact sports have been banned. Amusement parks, swimming pools and similar activities to remain shut.
- All offices will operate at 50 percent capacity, with the remaining staff directed to work-from-home
- Public transport will operate at 50 percent capacity, with fully vaccinated staff. Similarly, railways will also operate at 50 percent occupancy
- Tourism has been restricted to vaccinated individuals, while domestic airlines have been instructed to no longer serve meals or snacks during flights
- Mask compliance is mandatory, regardless of vaccination status, in all public places
According to Sindh Education Minister Sardar Ali Shah, all educational institutions of the province would remain closed until Aug. 19. He said that in view of the coronavirus situation, as well as Muharram processions, the closure would ensure students would not face undue difficulties.
Senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader Nasir Hussain Shah, meanwhile, told Geo News that the provincial government was prepared to re-impose a lockdown if cases continued to rise in the coming days. He noted that the nine-day lockdown had resulted in a drop in cases, adding that it was unfortunate that these measures had been subject to so much criticism.
Separately, a NCOC statement advised Sindh to implement targeted lockdowns in areas reporting high incidence of the virus, adding that greater emphasis should be placed on preventative measures rather than lockdowns.