Pakistan police lockdown
Police officers try to restrict people from defying the nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Monday, April 13, 2020. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Following the federal government’s decision of extending lockdown for another two weeks, but at the same time relaxing some businesses, the provincial governments have taken some steps to resume normal life.

Life is struggling back to normality after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement to ease restrictions on certain businesses.

However, these ‘low-risk’ businesses or factories are required to follow standard operating procedure to keep their premises, workplace as well as workers safe from coronavirus.

If there was a risk of local transmission of coronavirus, they will face imminent and immediate closure, the PM had warned.

Punjab extends lockdown

Though the Punjab government endorsed the federal government’s decision, it has opted to prolong the prevailing lockdown for ten days, that is until April 25.

It has been further decided that the ban on public transport would not be lifted and labourers and others would have to use private transport.

Although the decision to extend lockdown has been reached after a consensus, Sindh has expressed its reservations over easing the restrictions on the grounds that effective lockdown was necessary for containing the spread of deadly virus.

People throng markets in KP

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), too, lockdown has been extended until April 30 and the provincial government has allowed some businesses to resume their activities but with certain guidelines. In the province, hairdresser shops, electrical market, chicken and egg shops, auto spare parts, paper & packaging and stationery shops have been allowed to remain open from 9am to 5pm.

Restaurants open in Balochistan

In Balochistan, the district administration in various cities has allowed restaurants to open. However, they are not allowed to let customers dine at their premises. Apart from restaurants, a number of other shops in the above-mentioned category have been allowed to resume business activity.

Health experts advise caution

Meanwhile, health experts and government officials have cautioned people against taking the new easing of restrictions for some businesses as a licence to return to normal life. Dr Zafar Mirza, the special assistant for health, in his daily briefing to the media said although the number of new cases of coronavirus and deaths caused by it had been far below the government’s estimates, the worst time is not over.

“We must follow the coronavirus guidelines and maintain social distancing as well as all the protocols to keep ourselves and our near and dear ones safe from the pandemic,” said the PM’s top aide on health.

A number of doctors have also expressed fears whether opening of certain businesses and easing down restrictions could cause spread of coronavirus that have so far been limited due to the government’s lockdown policy.

“People need to remember that threat of coronavirus is not over and it is very much there, alive and potent,” said Dr Qasim Mehmood, senior physician of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS). Mixing with others and remaining indifferent to social distancing would not only endanger us, but it will also put our friends, relatives and colleagues’ lives at risk, he said.