Monday, 21 September, 2020
PM announces to exit lockdown from Saturday

PM announces to exit lockdown from Saturday
File Photo

Islamabad: The government has announced to gradually lift the lockdown restrictions, imposed to contain the impact of coronavirus, from Saturday. Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged people to take responsibility, saying that the success of the next phase depends on people following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government.

Revealing the decisions taken in the meeting of the National Co­ordination Committee (NCC) on Thursday, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar announced that more sectors related to the construction industry, which was partially reopened last month, are allowed to resume business activities. 

In addition to the opening of selected out patient departments (OPDs), which will treat specific diseases, markets are also given permission to operate however in between specific work hours. “Markets will open after Sehri but will be closed at 5:00 pm,” Umar announced, adding that, however, they will remain closed for two days per week. 

Addressing the nation following a meeting of the NCC, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the extended national quarantine, which is scheduled to end on Saturday, will not be further extended because “our people are suffering”. 

“Yes, the number of cases is rising, as are fatalities. However, we always knew that this would happen. Our concern was that the number of cases should not rise so high and rapidly that health facilities are burdened,” he said, adding: “That has, fortunately, not happened.” 

The prime minister, who acknowledged that the positive cases are ticking up, observed that the country cannot afford to remain in extended lockdown as “our people are suffering financially”.

Pakistan had reported its first Covid-19 positive case on Feb 26 following which the government adopted a number of precautionary measures short of a national lockdown despite repeated calls by the opposition parties and the civil society to do so. The prime minister refused to oblige, noting that a nationwide lockdown will result in “poor dying from hunger”.

However, as the toll began to surge, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in Sindh entered a provincewide lockdown, bringing life to a halt. The lead was followed by the rest of the provinces/administrative units which imposed quarantines, even suspending inter-city transport.

Today, the prime minister said even though he was in favor of resuming public transport, it will remain shut over provinces’ reservations. “I believe it [public transport] should be reopened because it is the common man’s mode of transport but the provinces have reservations. We do not want to take decisions unless there is unanimity,” he said.

“While the people are concerned about the second wave of the virus, the government has to take into consideration the monetary implications of the quarantine.” 

Saeed Ghani also urged "It is the responsibility of the people to do so. No government or department can fight this pandemic, the people need to cooperate."

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