Pakistan rush
Public throng the markets and bazaars for shopping in Karachi ignoring the government's instructions to prevent COVID-19 spread after the lockdown was eased. Image Credit: APP

Dubai: Karachi police have sealed some major markets in the city for blatant violations of COVID-19 guidelines set by the government before easing the lockdown.

The crowded markets and shops in the busiest and most popular shopping areas including the famous Zainab Market were shut down after the shopkeepers failed to follow the safety protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Eid shopping

As the lockdown was eased on May 9, masses thronged the bazaars, shops and markets with massive traffic jams on the roads in big cities. People did not bother to follow the standard operational procedures (SOPs) set by the government as condition before lifting the lockdown.

According to media reports, people were seen shopping rubbing their shoulders the markets and most of them were not even wearing masks. Markets become busier during Ramadan for Eid shopping.

Taking notice of the violations, city police inspected the major markets and took legal action against shopkeepers for flouting the COVID-19 guidelines, reported Geo TV. Police shut down the most popular shopping areas of Saddar including Zainab Market and Madina City Mall. Police also sealed Victoria Market, International Market, Gul Plaza and Arham Shopping Centre.

COVID-19 violations

According to Assistant Commissioner Asma Batool, the shopkeepers were neither wearing masks or gloves, nor using sanitisers. Following the action, the traders also protested against the shutting down of shops and raised slogans against the district administration.

Videos that have gone viral on social media clearly show no social distancing protocol was followed in the markets, shops and even during the traders’ protest.

New ordinance

Meanwhile, Sindh government has introduced an ordinance to ensure implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines. According to the ordinane, theose found violating of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and other coronavirus lockdown restrictions will be slapped with a fine of Pak Rs1 million.

The COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance, 2020, came into effect after Governor Sindh Imran Ismail. Prior to this, the fine for violating the Infectious Diseases Act was Rs3,000 only.

Lockdown re-impose warning

Earlier, Asad Umar, Federal Planning and Development, has warned to re-imposed the lockdown after reports of people crowding the markets and bazaars were highlight on the national and international media.

“It seems people believe that lockdown has been completely lifted,” the minister said. “Do shop for Eid but, do not put your loved ones in danger. I hope that people would understand the gravity of the situation,” he said.

The number of COVID-19 cases has been on the rise since the country eased the lockdown on May 9. According to the official tally, confirmed cases have increased to 35,788 while the number of deaths has jumped to 770 with 34 deaths in the last 24 hours while 9695 patients have recovered. This is according to figures updated on Thursday morning.

Umar urged people that following the ease in lockdown since May 9, it is now the public’s responsibility to comply with all the standard operating procedures (SOPs), and take care of the health of their family, society and community at large.

The federal minister insisted that implementation of SOPs needed to be ensured, while adding that public awareness drives were also being broadcast on the radio and television channels, as well as on all digital forums. He directed the provinces to ensure the implementation of SOPs.