ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has yesterday announced phased lifting of the coronavirus lockdown from May 9. After chairing the National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting, the premier briefed the nation over the COVID-19 situation.
“First coronavirus case was reported in Pakistan on February 26 and the country was put under lockdown like rest of the world as the pandemic spreads very quickly. “It was feared that the lockdown would affect daily wagers and people were in trouble because of it. Thousands of fatalities were occurring in a single day worldwide.
“By the grace of Allah Almighty, Pakistan did not face pressure like other countries. Now we have to ease down the restrictions.
“Casualties are increasing which was anticipated. It was feared that hospitals might run short of beds. It can still not be predicted that when the intensity of the outbreak will increase.”
Giving detail of the decision taken at the NCC, Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Asad Umar said that the markets will open for five days a week.
He said that small markets and shops in mohallas and rural areas will be allowed to open from Fajar to 5 pm. The minister said the entire business, except outlets of essential items like food and medicines will remain closed in two days of the week.
Earlier, the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), in a meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, had proposed easing of lockdown restrictions after May 9.
The chief ministers of the four provinces and representatives of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan attended the meeting. Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Thursday (today) to take a formal decision in this regard.
However, the NCOC rejected a proposal of Pakistan Railways to partially resume train services from May 10. Chief ministers of all four provinces rejected the recommendation of resuming the train operation.
The NCOC made multiple recommendations to ease lockdown restrictions in the country which were imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The recommendations include the opening of phase-II of the construction sector, reopening of retail outlets and operationalization of selective outpatient departments in Islamabad.
The participants also proposed that shops should remain open from 9 am to 5 pm, and then again from 8 pm to 10 pm. No changes were made in the SOPs for religious festivities in the second half of the holy month of Ramadan and the measures will remain the same as previously agreed between the government and ulema.