Karachi eid pakistan facemasks cattle
In this picture taken on July 22, 2020, customers wearing facemasks arrive at a cattle market ahead of Eid Al Adha or the 'Festival of Sacrifice', in Pakistan's port city of Karachi. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: As the holiday weekend approaches, Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the public on Monday to remain vigilant on Eid amid concerns of coronavirus spike. Major tourist spots in the country would remain shut during Eid Al Adha as the health officials urge people to “stay home and save lives.”

In his address to the public, Imran Khan hailed the declining trend of COVID-19 in the country but cautioned that Pakistan could again see a surge in cases due to large gatherings on Eid if people don’t comply with health guidelines. “If we won’t be careful during Eid and Muharram, then cases may quickly climb again,” the Pakistani premier said urging everyone to refrain from repeating the mistakes made during Eid Al Fitr that could affect both lives and economy and burden the health system.

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He advised the citizens to wear masks and follow the social distancing guidelines, citing examples of Australia and Spain that had to go into the second lockdown, as people did not adhere to guidelines after relaxation. “If Pakistanis are attentive on Eid, together we can defeat the virus. And if the situation improves afterward, we would soon open restaurants, business, tourist areas, schools and universities too with guidelines in place” PM Khan said.

Pakistan will observe a three-day holiday on Eid Al Adha from July 31 to August 2.

“Make no plans to visit tourist spots”: DC Islamabad

Islamabad administration announced to shut all public spots and tourist destinations in the city from July 27 to August 2. “I request you all to not make any plans for outdoor activities this Eid. Stay home and save lives,” said Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat on Twitter. The city administration has closed Murree Expressway, Margalla Hills and all other parks, entertainment sites, hotels and picnic spots till the last day of Eid holiday in an attempt to discourage large gatherings on Eid.

Punjab imposes smart lockdown till August 5

Punjab government announced imposing a ‘smart lockdown’ in the province from July 28 till August 5, in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus during Eid. “All retail shops, markets, shopping malls shall remain closed,” the notification said, however, pharmacies postal services, gas stations and takeaway/home delivery for restaurants will be allowed to function. The provincial government decided to re-introduce the partial lockdown after Punjab reported zero deaths on July 26 for the first time in two months.

Citizens urged not to avoid travel to remote regions

Planning Minister Asad Umar, who heads the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), advised people to avoid travelling to remote areas this year in order to avoid putting pressure on the health system. The remote and far-flung touristy areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Kashmir could not afford influx of tourists in case of COVID-19 spike as these regions have limited health facilities that can only serve the local residents, he said.

KP chief minister asks people to celebrate Eid at home

Although the tourism industry has been one the worst affected due to the pandemic, Pakistan has decided to open its scenic northern areas after reviewing the health situation following Eid. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan requested citizens to celebrate Eid with simplicity at home reminding them that the tourist spots would remain closed. The KP government is currently working on standard operating procedures (SOPs) for visitors and tourist companies for a phased and safe re-opening of the tourist sites after months of closure.