pakistan
Tuesday Nov 30 2021
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Schools to remain open, new curbs imposed as Sindh braces for omicron variant

Teacher gives lecture in a class room at at school in Hyderabad on October 10, 2021. — INP/File
Teacher gives lecture in a class room at at school in Hyderabad on October 10, 2021. — INP/File
  • New coronavirus curbs to be imposed from Dec 1-15.
  • Cinemas to remain open for fully vaccinated people.
  • Businesses to function in province till 10pm.


The Sindh government on Tuesday announced that educational activities would continue across the province, but at the same time, announced new curbs as it braces for omicron — the latest coronavirus variant.

The discovery of omicron has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year-old COVID-19 pandemic.

The omicron variant is likely to spread internationally, posing a "very high" global risk where COVID-19 surges could have "severe consequences" in some areas, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had said on Monday.

Pakistan had also last week announced a ban on entry from six southern African countries as well as Hong Kong "due to threat" from the new COVID-19 variant.

The Sindh Home Department, in a notification, said the National Command and Operations Centre had placed Karachi, Sukkur, and Sanghar in "category B" — cities with good vaccination progress — while other cities of the province fell under "category C" — cities with low vaccination progress.

The home department, in line with the NCOC's recommendations, has therefore announced new curbs, which will be applicable from December 1-15:

Gatherings:

Indoor and outdoor gatherings are only allowed for vaccinated individuals with the following cap:

Karachi, Sukkur, and Sanghar — indoor 500 people and outdoor 1,000 people.

Other cities, divisions — indoor 300 people and outdoor 1,000 people.

Dining:

Indoor dining is only allowed for fully vaccinated individuals till 11:59pm. In Karachi, Sukkur, and Sanghar, it will be allowed at 70% occupancy, while in other cities and divisions, the maximum cap is 50%.

Outdoor dining is also allowed for fully vaccinated individuals throughout the province till 11:59pm. Takeaway and drive-through services can function 24/7, given that they follow COVID-19 SOPs.

Weddings and related ceremonies:

Indoor and outdoor ceremonies are allowed only for fully vaccinated individuals.

Karachi, Sukkur, and Sanghar — indoor 500 individuals and outdoor 1,000 individuals.

Other cities, divisions — indoor 300 individuals and outdoor 1,000 individuals.

Business timings:

Markets and business activities can continue till 10pm, while essential services — pharmacies, medical facilities, vaccination centres, petrol pumps, CNG stations, and others — can function 24/7.

Recreation:

Amusement parks, water sports, and swimming pools in individuals Karachi, Sukkur, and Sanghar can function at 70% occupancy, while in the remaining cities and divisions the cap is 50%.

Public parks, however, will remain open under strict COVID-19 protocols.

Sports:

Contact sports are allowed for fully vaccinated individuals.

Shrines:

Shrines will remain open, however, only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to visit the places.

Office:

Routine office timings will be followed and 100% attendance is permitted. The employees should be fully vaccinated.

Gyms:

Only fully vaccinated individuals can exercise at indoor gyms.

Public transport:

Public transport can operate with 80% occupancy and only fully vaccinated individuals can benefit from the service. Wearing masks is mandatory.

Cinemas:

Cinemas can entertain fully vaccinated individuals and can operate without time restrictions.

Railways:

Railways will operate with 80% occupancy and only fully vaccinated individuals can benefit from the service. Wearing masks is mandatory.

Extended lockdowns:

District administrations may impose broader lockdowns in areas under their jurisdiction. They can also smart and micro smart lockdowns in specified areas.

Wearing masks:

Wearing masks shall be compulsory in public spaces.

Tourism:

Policy of controlled tourism for fully vaccinated individuals will continue and will be ensured by the district administration.

Education sector:

All education institutes will follow 100% attendance with a focused campaign to vaccinate students above 12 years of age.