Monday May 24 2021
Web Desk

Is Sindh government imposing curfew in Karachi?

Web Desk
A general view of a deserted road in a business district during a lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Karachi, Pakistan May 8, 2020. — Reuters/File

  • "In the last 10 days, coronavirus patients have increased to a worrisome limit," Murtaza Wahab says.
  • People should follow coronavirus SOPs if they want govt to not tighten imposed restrictions.
  • Govt does not wish to shut down businesses, but it cannot let people die either, he stresses.

The Sindh government does not want to impose a curfew or a complete lockdown, the provincial government's spokesperson Murtaza Wahab clarified Monday.

The government does not wish to shut down businesses, but it cannot let people die either, the spokesperson said as he highlighted the severity of the situation.

"In the last 10 days, the number of coronavirus patients has increased to a worrisome limit," the spokesperson said, adding that despite such a situation, the government does not wish to impose a complete lockdown.

Wahab said due to a strict lockdown during the first wave, the province was hit by a massive setback as several businesses remained shut for a prolonged period.

"Now the government faces a similar situation as it has to take strict decisions, but still it does not wish to shut down businesses," Wahab said.

The spokesperson, advising people, said they should follow the government's mandated coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) if they do not wish the imposed restrictions to be tightened further.

The spokesperson's comments came after the Sindh government imposed sweeping restriction on "unnecessary movement" after 8pm starting May 25 (Tuesday) citing rising COVID-19 cases in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur cities.

A meeting of the provincial task force on coronavirus was held today at CM House with Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah in the chair. The decision to further tighten the restrictions came a day after the provincial authorities announced they were extending the current coronavirus restrictions for two more weeks.

It was decided to impose a ban on people's movement after 8pm and the provincial police chief was directed to stop people travelling in cars unnecessarily.

During the meeting, CM Shah said that if the masses follow the safety guidelines for two more weeks, the sharp post-Eid rise in COVID-19 cases will be limited.

"We can ease COVID restrictions in the city when new cases are controlled."

The chief minister said that he will pay surprise visits to check the implementation of SOPs, adding that 50% of current total cases in the country are from Sindh.

He noted that complaints have beeb received from Karachi's South and East districts and directed the respective deputy commissioners to ensure the implementation of safety protocols in their areas.

COVID-19 lockdown extended

On Sunday, the Sindh government had tightened curbs once more in view of the rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the province.

According to the home department, a rise in positivity was observed throughout the province, especially in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur.

"The Task Force discussed various ways and means to contain the disease. It was reiterated that compliance of the SOPs (standard operating procedures) for Covid continues to remain a cornerstone measure for control of disease spread," said the statement.

"The Task Force also decided to issue strict warnings and advice for the public to strictly follow SOPs on COVID control with a warning that if the cases rise, the closure of many activities may have to be undertaken, especially in areas with high positivity," it added.

The following changes were announced following the meeting:

  • Business hours will now be from 5am to 6pm, except for essential services.
  • Bakeries and milk shops are allowed to operate till midnight.
  • Pharmacies inside shopping malls will close at 6pm, along with other shops.
  • Fridays and Sundays to be off days for businesses, except for Hyderabad, where Fridays and Saturdays will be the designated off days.
  • All outdoor and indoor dining is henceforth barred; takeaway, drive through and delivery services to continue.
  • Public transport — inter-city, intra-city and inter-provincial — allowed with 50% occupancy, strict observance of SOPs.

Places/activities still closed

Medical experts suggested continued restrictions on some places and activities in view of the rising number of cases. These are:

  • Marriage halls, business centres, expo halls.
  • Contact sports, indoor gyms, sports facilities, sporting tournaments — indoor and outdoor.
  • Theme parks, amusement parks, arcades for video games, carrom/dabbu playing areas.
  • Tourist spots such as Keenjhar Lake and Lab-e-Mehran, picnic spots, all beaches, and recreational parks.
  • Beauty parlours.
  • Clinics.
  • Cinemas and theatres.
  • Shrines.
  • All types of indoor and outdoor religious, cultural, musical social gatherings

Special focus areas

Special focus areas identified by the forum were Karachi (District East and South), Hyderabad (Qasimabad, Latifabad, and Taluka Hyderabad City) and Sukkur.

Commissioners in these areas where tasked with identifying hotspots and take the following measures:

  • Stop unnecessary movement while ensuring access to essential services.
  • Stricter measures to ensure SOP compliance.
  • Public awareness through local leaders, influential persons.