As Covid-19 cases face a drastic decline in Pakistan, the country is moving towards easing lockdown restrictions. Pakistan’s daily infection rate has stayed under 1,000 for more than three weeks, causing the government to consider opening restaurants, parks and even gyms next week. The government has credited consistently low numbers for the last few weeks to a strategy of smart lockdowns, where businesses and residential areas were shut and quarantined after recording spikes in cases. Since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Pakistan’s poverty rate has increased from 30% to 40% of the country’s 220 million people.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Thursday said dine-in restaurants and beauty salons would reopen across Pakistan on August 10, as efforts against the coronavirus pandemic seemed to be bearing fruit. During a briefing in the National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting, he said the COVID-19 pandemic had been controlled to a great extent due to the effective strategy of the government institutions, untiring efforts of doctors and paramedical staff and cooperation of the people, reported Geo News.
He said the National Coordination Committee (NCC) had decided that all the educational institutions would be opened on September 15 after a final review by the Ministry of Education on September 7. Businesses would go back to their normal pre-coronavirus timings as well. Sports and games will be allowed to resume but without audiences, and double sawaari on motorbikes and cycles will be allowed as well, he said. Travelling in public transport while standing, however, will not be allowed, he added.
Beauty parlors, exhibition centres, and shrines were being allowed to open, he said, but warned people to follow the SOPs in large gatherings at the shrines and seek permission from the administration before events that may attract crowds. “The hospitality sector, restaurants, cafes… a lot of people work in this sector and they were facing a lot of hardship,” he stated. “So outdoor and indoor establishments will reopen on Monday, August 10.” However, restrictions on passengers in train and airplanes were to continue until September. “Passengers will be able to travel on the airplanes in a normal manner from October 1,” Umar concluded.