As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan surged past 36,700 and fatalities rose to 788 on Thursday, buyers and traders’ willful disregard for the safety protocols has given the virus a free hand to infect and kill more
The federal and provincial governments have set safety/health protocols for the masses and exhorted them to adhere to the rules to the letter for their safety, but all these SOPs are being flouted by the people. The markets and bazaars were seen bursting at the seams with happy buyers across the country wearing no masks and standing closely together.
The situation was pretty much the same on the first day of relaxation in the lockdown in Peshawar as people thronged bazaars and trampled the much talked about standard operating procedures (SOPs), triggering fears the carelessness could reverse the progress made during the last six weeks.
Most of the markets remain crowded throughout the day after the recent relaxation of the lockdown. The district administration, police and other departments are struggling to keep the situation under control by lodging cases and sending people behind bars or imposing fine for not following social distancing and not wearing masks.
The government had decided that all businesses will remain open from Monday to Thursday, morning to afternoon. The shops would remain closed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Though the government warned that it would seal shops in case of violations, it could not force the public to follow the instructions.
Strict lockdown if SOPs breach continues: Punjab government
The Punjab government said it had decided to strictly enforce lockdown and take strict action against violators of Covid-19 SOPs after markets opened since Monday.
The development came as thousands of shoppers threw safety guidelines to the dogs and flooded bazaars and shops across the province.
If violation of SOPs continues, the government may reconsider its decision on easing lockdown, said Law Minister Raja Basharat while issuing a special statement in his office here on Thursday. He said it was unfortunate that during the easing of lockdown, SOPs were not followed in most of the markets and there was more rush than usual in the markets.
Traffic jams witnessed in Karachi’s main areas
Traffic jams were observed on the University Road, the Peshawar Cantonment and other places in the city. Deploring the irresponsibility of the people, a worried professor said that the public in Paris did not come out of their houses unnecessarily despite relaxation in the lockdown. “Actually our people have not realised the gravity of the problem so they cannot be expected to follow the SOPs,” he argued.