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pakistan
Wednesday Oct 28 2020
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Restaurants, shopping malls must shut down at 10pm, says NCOC amid rising coronavirus cases

People wear protective masks as they stand on marks maintaining social distancing and getting temperature checked before entering in a shopping mall, after Pakistan started easing lockdown restrictions. — Reuters/File

The National Command and Operations Centre has issued a fresh warning to business owners, warning them to shut down before or by 10pm.

The decision is aimed to curb the further spread of an already rising number of coronavirus infections and pertains to:

- Restaurants

- Wedding halls

- Commercial markets

- Shopping malls

Recreational spots, such as amusement and public parks, have been asked to shut down by 6pm.

Essential services such as medical stores, clinics and hospitals will remain open.

According to the notification, due to "consistent increase in positivity percentage and disease prevalence during last two weeks", NCOC decided to issue the new directives in areas with more than 2% positivity.

This includes Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Peshawar and Quetta.

The development comes on the back of an announcement made by the NCOC earlier in the day, mandating the use of masks by all citizens across the country, in all public spaces, citing a rising number of coronavirus cases.

To that end, it is now compulsory for everyone to wear masks in government and private offices as well as in markets, shopping malls, and while using public transport.

Authorities have been directed to ensure the strict implementation of safety protocols in areas identified as coronavirus hotspots.

The country's coronavirus nerve centre shared that so far authorities have imposed 4,374 lockdowns in 11 cities of Pakistan.

The country reported 825 cases and 14 deaths due to the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours.

Restrictions 'inevitable'

A day earlier, the government said that strict coronavirus restrictions are inevitable given the rise in COVID-19 deaths and the positivity ratio across Pakistan.

Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan said that a few weeks ago, 400-500 cases were being reported across the country on a daily basis. The tally, he said, had shot up to 700-750 cases of the infection per day.

"The coronavirus death rate has increased in the country," he said, adding that that the positivity ratio had surged to 2.5-2.75%.

Dr Faisal said that people were not adhering to coronavirus precautions as they should, given the pandemic was still far from over.

Wedding halls, restaurants 'high contributors'

Early this month, NCOC said that it has observed wedding halls and indoor restaurants to be "high contributors" to the spread of the contagious disease.

Following the observation, on October 9, the body issued new guidelines for wedding halls, saying that it was officially restricting the number of guests and limiting functions till 10pm.

For indoor events, a maximum of 300 guests has been allowed and for outdoor events, a maximum of 500 guests, with the gathering to only last 2 hours.

The statement said that if wedding halls are found to be in violation of the SOPs then they will be closed off at a “specified time” and a heavy fine will also be imposed. It further said that the closure of SOPs-defying wedding halls will come into effect two weeks after the notices are served so people get “sufficient time” to search for alternate venues.