Pakistan to lift Covid-19 restrictions from August 10: Minister
Pakistan will ease several restrictions, which were put in place five months ago, from Monday as the country registered a dip in the cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), a senior minister has said.
Asad Umar, minister for planning, announced on Thursday restrictions on the hospitality and recreational sectors would be lifted from August 10. “Restaurants and cafes, outdoor and indoor, will be allowed to open from Monday, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be finalised in the next two to three days,” Umar said.
The recreational sector, which includes public and amusement parks, theatres, cinemas and arcades will also be allowed to open from Monday along with business and expo centres and salons. Marriage halls can open from September 15 and hotels can host wedding ceremonies, he said.
Permission was also being given for organising tournaments and matches involving non-contact sports without the presence of an audience from Monday, in addition to allowing indoor gymnasiums and sports clubs to open.
Educational institutions will open from September 15, but a final review of the situation will be carried out on September 7.
Umar added that restrictions on transport, specifically railways and airlines, were also being lifted. “But restrictions on the number of people that can be present on trains and planes, and the condition to seat passengers with a gap, will remain in place till September.”
He explained that these would also be lifted by October if the situation allowed. Restrictions on road travel were also being lifted on Monday but permission will not be given for standing and travelling on buses.
Permission was also being given for opening shrines. However, in case of a large gathering, citizens will be bound to follow the guidelines issued by the government.
“The threat has not gone away. The situation has improved because the government formulated a clear strategy which was implemented by the administrative machinery,” the minister said.
Seen as a brave move by the Imran Khan government to return the country to normalcy, many have cautioned that Pakistan is moving too quickly. Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif has said that this policy could backfire if people did not adhere to SOPs.
Pakistan has reported more than 280,000 Covid-19 cases, and more than 6,000 deaths till date.