The second wave of the coronavirus outbreak in Pakistan has resulted in the country revising its Covid-19 guidelines. The government has now issued a work-from-home policy for half of the staff in both public and private sector offices and enforced smart lockdowns in main cities. The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has also banned indoor wedding gatherings from November 20 amid increasing infection rates. A statement published by the NCOC revealed that the second phase of precautionary measures would be imposed in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Peshawar, Quetta, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur and Abbottabad.
Terming them the “Non Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPI)”, the NCOC said that these measures would “remain in force till 31 January 2021,” in the “major cities with high positivity and higher disease spread potential”. It said that the implementation of the second phase of the NPIs would be implemented along with the first phase of the NPIs. This included the “policy of ‘work from home’ for 50% of the staff in all public/private offices, and “relatively broader smart lockdowns (SLDs) based on hotspot areas,” reported The Express Tribune.
The statement said that “only outdoor marriages [will be] allowed with upper limit of 1,000 persons (to be implemented with effect from 20 Nov 2020)”, adding that supplementary details were being issued separately. The NCOC also ordered the implementation of Gilgit-Baltistan model of the enforcement of wearing masks from Saturday (Nov 7). Accordingly, any person not wearing mask will be fined with Rs100 and issued three masks on the spot. Agreeing to the NCOC measures, the Karachi administrator issued fresh standard operating procedures (SOPs), making the wearing of mask mandatory at public places – and ordered a fine of up to Rs500 in case of violation. Last month, NCOC maintained that wedding halls and indoor restaurants were “high contributors” to the spread of the deadly disease. On October 9, the forum issued new guidelines for wedding halls, restricting the number of guests and limiting functions till 10pm.