Provincial government decides to limit operational hours of businesses, block cellphone numbers of unvaccinated adults
The Sindh government on Friday decided to re-impose, from Monday (July 26), several mobility restrictions designed to curb the spread of coronavirus as the National Command and Operation Center reported the province’s positivity ratio had hit 10.3 percent.
Following a meeting of the provincial task force on coronavirus, chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, provincial authorities said that from Monday, shopping malls and markets would only be allowed to operation from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. This restriction, it clarified, would not apply to bakeries, pharmacies and grocery stores.
The provincial government also decided to shutter marriage halls and other venues catering to large gatherings of people. Shrines, which had only recently been reopened, would be shuttered once again next week, it added.
The re-imposed restrictions would also apply to restaurants, which would only be allowed to offer takeaway and delivery services from Monday, and would face a total ban on both indoor and outdoor dining. Educational institutions, currently on summer vacations, would continue to remain closed from next week; however, examinations that have already been scheduled would proceed as planned.
Private and public offices have also been directed to return to 50 percent in-person attendance from Monday in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
During the meeting, Chief Minister Shah noted that the coronavirus spread in Sindh was “alarming,” adding that the situation could turn worse after Eidul Azha. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Kazim Jatoi noted that 85 percent of the patients currently admitted in Sindh’s hospitals had not been vaccinated.
In a bid to boost vaccination rates, the task force decided to write to the NCOC and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to get the mobile SIMs of unvaccinated people blocked. Adviser to the C.M. Murtaza Wahab, in a posting on Twitter, said that messages would be sent to all mobile phones urging people to get vaccinated. Anyone who had not gotten at least one jab after a week would have their phone numbers blocked.
The task force meeting also decided to enforce an earlier decision to block salaries of unvaccinated government employees from August, with the chief minister directing the secretary finance to implement it.
Pakistan has crossed 1 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with the ongoing fourth wave severely impacting Sindh province, and capital Karachi. Authorities have stressed upon citizens the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible, with Planning Minister Asad Umar claiming unvaccinated individuals were 7 times more likely to get infected than those who had been inoculated against COVID-19.