Pakistan on Monday reimposed restrictions in major cities to contain the spread of the coronavirus as the fourth wave of the pandemic grips the country with rising cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant. The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the nerve centre of the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, revised its guidelines for a number of cities after 4,858 new cases were reported, taking the national tally to 1,039,695.
Announcing the revised guidelines, NCOC chief and Minister for Planning Asad Umar said that the government is taking “targeted and staggered” decisions to curb the spread of the pandemic – now mostly fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus. Umar after a meeting of the NCOC said the new cases and positivity ratio has increased across the country, necessitating fresh measures.
According to the new guidelines, markets will now be closed at 8 pm instead of 10 pm and the government has also decided to resume the 50 per cent work from home policy and 50 per cent occupancy for public transport. The government has once again banned indoor dining while outdoor dining will now be allowed only till 10pm, with delivery and takeaway permitted.
The new restrictions will be applicable from August 3 to Aug 31 in the cities of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Faisalabad, Multan, Abbottabad, Peshawar, Karachi, Hyderabad, Gilgit and Skardu. Umar said that all those who work in the service sector, including transport workers, shop keepers, bankers, NADRA employees – or any job which requires dealing with a large number of people – must be vaccinated against the COVID-19 before August 31.
Students above 18 years of age have also been asked to be vaccinated by August 31, he said. Earlier, the restrictions were eased in July but it led to a spike in new cases.