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Monday Aug 10 2020
Web Desk

As Pakistan returns to normalcy, fears of a second wave of coronavirus rise

Web Desk

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan lifted the coronavirus lockdown on Monday, citizens were seen completely disregarding the precautionary measures the government had clearly advised the nation to follow on the first day and markets were overcrowded with women and children

No one in the bazaars across the country was found to be pracitising social distancing and only a scant number of people wore face masks.

While social distancing was followed at tables at various restaurants and in food courts inside shopping malls, many people at the dhaabas — roadside restaurants — did not observe any of the coronavirus-related standard operating procedures (SOPs) as their indulged their love for halwa puri, nihari, and tea.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) had announced last week the coronavirus lockdown would be relaxed further today, with markets, shopping malls, cinemas, dine-in restaurants, salons, gyms, eateries and other businesses opening across the country, including major cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Quetta.

Read more: Asad Umar says dine-in restaurants, salons to reopen across Pakistan on Aug 10

It is noteworthy to mention here that at least 13 more deaths from coronavirus were reported across Pakistan over the past 24 hours and 435 new cases of the infection identified.

A lockdown had been imposed in Pakistan back in March to curb the spread of coronavirus; however, it was lifted on August 10 subject to the implementation of coronavirus safety guidelines and SOPs, with various sectors gradually opening as the number of cases fell.

The NCOC, on the other hand, has warned that non-compliance with the coronavirus SOPs during the upcoming holy month of Muharram could lead to surge in the number of infections.

Tourism limps back

Tourist destinations all across the country — which received a boost on Saturday when the government decided to allow hotels to reopen there — saw the revival of business there as people flocked to take in the sights and enjoy after months of being forced to remain indoors.

However, the government said it would monitor whether the COVID-19 SOPs are being implemented or not. Hotels at tourist destinations would open to fewer number of people who would be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

What’s open and what’s not: Timings, SOPs and all you need to know as Sindh lifts lockdown

A number of tourists on Sunday flocked to Naran, Kaghan, Nathiagali, Murree, Swat, and other tourist destinations in the Hazara division where police, along with officials of the health department, were on the road to facilitate them.

"After the lockdown restrictions eased around the country, our favorite places are reopening their doors to welcome us once again," said Sami Shabbi, an overjoyed tourist in Murree.

A group of youngsters in Murree regretted that a large number of people flocked to popular tourist sites and major cities over the weekend despite warnings from health authorities that the risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic remained far from over.

Punjab issues SOPs for cinemas and dine-ins

The government of Punjab on Friday issued a list of SOPs for restaurants and fast food businesses to implement when they resume operations from Monday, as well as for the tourism sector, which reopened today.

The Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department issued the SOPs on the recommendation of the Technical Working Group after the National Coordination Committee (NCC) decided to ease lockdown restrictions from restaurants, sports, tourism and entertainment sectors after seeing new cases drop for several weeks.

Here's a look at the SOPs set by the Punjab government.