Monday Mar 23 2020

Punjab govt's repeated pleas for social distancing fall on deaf ears

Photo: File

LAHORE: Pleas by the Punjab government for people to stay at home went in vain as people continued to visit public places, parks, markets and other venues in Lahore on Sunday, reported The News.

The City District Government of Lahore also failed to enforce a ban on opening of businesses in the provincial metropolis.

Although the local government has launched an awareness drive, advised citizens to frequently wash hands, cover their faces while sneezing and coughing and avoid large gatherings, citizens continue to maintain their life as they did before the pandemic hit Pakistan.

A visit to residential localities by a correspondent of The News showed that majority of the markets were open and people were gathering in flocks. Barbershops, motorcycle and car mechanics, service stations, hardware and sanitary stores, juice corners, small restaurants, LPG filling shops, mobile shops, book shops, sports goods shops were also found open and being frequented by the residents. 

Apart from this, roadside stalls of garments, glasses, fruits and vegetables, other edibles were also open and attracting people. Similarly, tuck shops situated on petrol pumps were also operative without any fear of the district administration.

Also read: Coronavirus outbreak: Shopping malls, picnic spots to close across Punjab for two days

Open playgrounds in various city localities were the most crowded places as hundreds of youths could be seen playing cricket. However, following public complaints several grounds were forcibly vacated by district administration and police.

A large number of citizens were also seen on the roads. 

Bashir Ahmed, a resident of Lahore’s Faisal Town, riding a bike along with his two small children and wife, when asked where he was going, said he was going to meet his brother who lives in the Mughalpura area of Lahore. When asked why he was putting himself and his family at risk, he stated that if his death is written due to coronavirus then no one can change that.

A teenage rickshaw driver Kallu, a resident of Lahore’s Green Town area, said that he has to feed his ailing parents and two sisters which is why he was out on the roads. He shared that he could not stay indoor as he had no savings or any other options to earn money and meet his daily expenditures.

Nadeem Ahmed, a tailor sitting in a small shop which was half-open and half-closed in the Ichhra area said that he could not work from home.

“I am using hand sanitizer and washing hands in routine and wearing a face mask while at work,” he said. "If I don't work who will provide a meal for my family."

Zareena Bibi, a housemaid, said her house owner asked her to come to work or be ready for daily deductions.

“How can I stay at home,” she said. "If I don't work, I can't eat or get food and other essentials for my family. I know I am inviting death by coming out but my fate is similar in case I stay at home."

Also read: Balochistan, Punjab govts seek Pakistan Army's help to battle coronavirus

Hundreds of similar people have no other earning options. Many of them have demanded the government provide them rations in case it wanted them to stay indoors.

On the other hand, many philanthropists/organisations have floated their contact numbers on social media offering provision of food and meal for the poor and daily wagers but most of the poor and daily wagers have no access to social media platforms so this effort might not get the desired results.

Citizens have demanded the government arrange food and meals for such people with the help of philanthropists and other organisations in an organised manner so that all deserving people could get their share.

Originally published in The News