Decision on easing lockdown restrictions today

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ISLAMABAD: The final decision about the ease in lockdown restrictions will be taken today in a meeting at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), which would be chaired by Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar.

The chief ministers of the four provinces and representatives of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan will also attend the meeting to deliberate on the next strategy.

The high-powered body will ponder upon resuming air and train travel, reopening of schools from June 1, and allowing businesses to open under the new guidelines.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Federal Cabinet approved a proposal after deliberations about easing lockdown and restrictions across the country from May 9.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said this while briefing the media about the decisions taken during the meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The prime minister again emphasised on taking care of the vulnerable segments of society, and those who have been deprived of their livelihood in the wake of the lockdown, Faraz said.

The information minister said PM Imran has backed the proposal of easing restrictions in the country, keeping in view the hardships being faced by people due to the lockdown. However, he warned of an abrupt spike in infections if the standard operating procedures (SOPs) were not implemented strictly after easing of the lockdown.

Asad Umar also briefed the ministers about the coronavirus situation in the country and informed the cabinet members that Pakistan’s situation was far better than many developed countries as far as COVID-19 infections and deaths were concerned.

Post-lockdown SOPs

The NCOC has firmed up multiple recommendations to ease the lockdown restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The measures include the opening of inter-provincial transportation in line with laid down Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and operationalisation of selective of Outdoor Patients Departments (OPDs) in the federal capital.

The suggestions included measures to strike a balance between efforts to curb coronavirus and revive economic activities. These will remain in effect till May 31, if approved in today’s meeting.

The recommendations also include the opening of phase II of the construction sector and the reopening of retail outlets.

The participants also proposed that shops should remain open from 9 am to 5 pm, and then again from 8 pm to 10 pm.

No changes were made in the SOPs for religious festivities in the second half of the holy month of Ramadan; the measures will remain the same as previously agreed between the government and Ulema.

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