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Web Desk
August 8, 2020

Provinces asked to come up with safety guidelines for tourism to avert second COVID-19 wave


Web Desk
Sat, Aug 08, 2020
The forum highlighted that violations of SOPs have been observed at almost all tourist destinations. — The News/Files

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) on Saturday ordered the provinces to come up with guidelines for managing tourism in a bid to avoid a second wave of coronavirus, said a press release from the forum.

The NCOC meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar, discussed opening up of the tourism sector with standard operating procedures (SOPs) and safety guidelines for the containment of the disease.

The forum highlighted that violations of SOPs have been observed at almost all tourist destinations, emphasising if tourism is not managed adequately, it might lead to another virus outbreak.

The administrations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir were requested to make all efforts to enforce SOPs on incoming tourists.

The SOPs include the usage of facemask and density control, meaning a limited number of tourists can be allowed at a time.

The meeting decided that other provinces must take measures to control the flow of tourists to various destinations.

“For next three weeks, special efforts to ramp up testing and contact tracing of tourists through establishing of special sentinel sites at tourist spots and airports will be ensured,” stated the official press release.

It added that the detailed SOPs on tourism have already been issued, however, the Ministry of Health will formulate and issue special guidelines and action plan for tourist management.

Pakistan lifts virus restrictions as cases drop

The federal government had on Thursday announced to further ease lockdown restrictions as the number of coronavirus cases continues to decline.

While briefing in the decisions taken by the National Coordination Committee (NCC), Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar said dine-in restaurants and beauty salons would reopen across Pakistan on August 10 as the efforts against the coronavirus pandemic seem to bear fruit.

Umar added that a review on the decision to reopen educational institutes on September 15 would be done on September 7. Businesses would go back to their normal pre-coronavirus timings as well.

Sports and games would be allowed to resume but without spectators, and pillion-riding was permitted as well, he said. Travelling in public transport while standing, however, will not be allowed, he added.

Beauty parlours, exhibition centres, and shrines were being allowed to open, he said, but warned people to follow the SOPs in large gatherings at the shrines and seek permission from the administration before events that may attract crowds.

"The hospitality sector, restaurants, cafes... a lot of people work in this sector and they were facing a lot of hardship," he stated. "So outdoor and indoor establishments will reopen on Monday, August 10."

However, the restrictions on passengers in train and airplanes were to continue until September.

"Passengers will be able to travel on the airplanes in a normal manner from October 1," Umar said. "The situation was brought under control with the cooperation of the people.

"We are seeing the fruit of our efforts and receiving international praise," he added, expressing gratitude to the healthcare workers and administration officials for their hard work in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

"The entire system that we created — we introduced a smart lockdown and contact tracing — and the related plan of action that we adopted has been highlighted globally.

"International magazines and newspapers are praising Pakistan and listing us among the countries that dealt best [with the pandemic]," he stressed.