Coronavirus SOPs: Businesses to operate only 5 days a week, close at 8pm in Pakistan

In view of the surge in coronavirus cases in the country, the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) on Monday issued renewed standard operating procedures (SOPs) to contain the virus, adding that they would be implemented with immediate effect.

Per the new guidelines, all businesses will only be allowed to operate five days a week, while all commercial activities will be closed by 8 pm.

Under the chairmanship of the Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, the NCOC meeting was held on Monday and was attended by the chief secretaries of all provinces via video link.

The forum expressed grave concern over the current COVID-19 situation in the country and unanimously agreed to implement some high impact interventions in cities and districts with positivity greater than 8% to contain the spread of the disease.

In cities with a coronavirus positivity ratio of less than 8%, nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) which are already in place will continue to be enforced based on risk assessment and disease prevalence.

According to a notification issued in this regard, the following measures will be taken:

Implementation of broader lockdowns with stringent enforcement protocols based on risk assessment. No mobility will be allowed except for emergencies.

Closure of all type of indoor dining. However, outdoor dining will be permitted till 10:00pm. Takeaways will be allowed.

Closure of all commercial activities (less essential services) by 8:00pm.

Two safe days per week will be observed. Choice of days will be at the discretion of the federating units.

Gatherings with an upper limit of 300 persons will be allowed with strict adherence to COVID-19 SOPs. However, all types of indoor gatherings involving cultural, musical/religious or miscellaneous events will be banned.

Complete closure of cinemas and shrines will continue to be enforced.

Complete ban on contact sports, festivals, cultural and other events.

Outdoor wedding functions till 10:00pm with an upper limit of 300 guests will be allowed with strict adherence to COVID-19 SOPs (event duration two hours only). No indoor functions will be allowed.

Complete closure of amusement parks, however, walking/jogging tracks will remain open with strict adherence to COVID-19 SOPs.

50% work-from-home policy will continue (including all public/private offices and courts).

Intercity public transport to operate at 50% of capacity.

Rail service to operate at 70% of capacity

Compulsory mask-wearing will be ensured by all federating units while incorporating innovative measures for enforcement.

Reduced presence at courts (City, District, High Courts and SC).

Stringent protocols for tourism in GB, KP, AJK and touristic places elsewhere. Sentinel testing sites at entry points / selected locations will be established.

Mass media coverage highlighting punitive actions.

These high impact interventions will be implemented immediately and will remain enforced till April 11, 2021. A review of the situation will be carried out at the NCOC on April 7, 2021.

The statement further said that a review of decisions related to the education sector, enforced with effect from March 10, 2021, will be carried out on March 24, 2021 at the NCOC.

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