Ramped up coronavirus restrictions came into effect across Sindh after the clock struck 8pm on Tuesday.
The provincial government had announced a day earlier that no “unnecessary movement” will be allowed after 8pm.
The decison to tighten the coronavirus curbs was taken during a Sindh Provincial Task Force meeting held on May 24, with under Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah in the chair.
The movements of vehicles shall remain restricted after 8pm, according to a corrigendum issued by the province’s home department. However, people with valid reasons will be allowed to travel with a driver plus one seating arrangement.
The vehicles deployed for emergency, official duties, and for delivery of goods will remain exempted, the province’s home department said.
Moreover, a cap of 10 people has been placed on all kinds of private parties, functions, marriages, and catering at home.
Restaurants and food streets will remain closed with no indoor or outdoor dining. Only home delivery, takeaway, and drive through will be permitted till 12am.
A maximum of two people are allowed to pick the orders and restaurants have been asked not to deliver food at private gatherings of more than 10 people.
Similarly, all parks will remain closed, including walking and jogging tracks, the province’s home department added.
No curfew in Sindh
The Sindh government does not want to impose a curfew or a complete lockdown, the provincial government’s spokesperson Murtaza Wahab had clarified a day earlier.
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.
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.
- Cinemas and theatres.
- 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.