ISLAMABAD: All educational institutions in the country will remain closed till May 23, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) announced on Saturday.
The NCOC said a meeting to review the decision would be held on May 18 and the decision to reopen the educational institutions would be taken after taking into account the coronavirus situation at the time.
The decision came after NCOC held a session today to review the coronavirus situation in the country.
"In view of ongoing disease trends, education institutes earlier closed till 17th May will continue to remain closed till 23rd May '21," said NCOC.
The government has in the past few days tightened restrictions already imposed in light of the coronavirus situation, as the country continues to register thousands of COVID-19 cases daily, with hundreds dying from the infection every day.
Amid the worsening situation, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, on April 27, had announced that as per NCOC's recommendations, all board exams have been postponed till June 15.
Mehmood said that from April 18 (when the last meeting of the education ministry was held) until now, the number of coronavirus cases has rapidly risen, therefore, the government has decided to postpone all exams until June 15.
He said the country seems to be headed towards a complete lockdown in areas witnessing particularly high positivity ratios.
"Exams of 9, 10, 11 and 12, which were supposed to begin from the end of May, have been delayed further," the minister said. "No board exams will be held till mid-June (June 15)."
Mehmood added that another meeting of the NCOC will decide in the third week of May whether these exams will be postponed further or not.
"If exams take place after June 15, they may continue in July and even August," the minister said.
The NCOC has also announced comprehensive "stay home, stay safe" guidelines from May 8-16 May to curb the spread of the virus.
Chand raat bazaars, shopping malls, public places, and recreational spots will remain closed from May 8-16, according to the newly imposed curbs.
The ban on chand raat bazaars extends to mehndi, jewelry/ornaments and clothing stalls, the NCOC said.
"The current spike of COVID-19 in the country merits effective measures to arrest its further spread with special emphasis on reducing mobility during forthcoming Eid-Ul-Fitr," the NCOC said in a statement.
All markets, businesses, and shops will remain closed except essential services, which include:
- Grocery stores
- Pharmacies/medical stores
- Medical facilities and vaccination centres
- Vegetables, fruit, chicken, and meat shops
- Petrol pumps
- Food takeaways and E-Commerce (Home Delivery)
- Utility Services (electricity, natural gas, internet, cellular networks/telecom, call centres) and media.
A complete ban on tourism would be observed for both locals and foreigners.
All tourist resorts, formal and informal picnic spots, public parks, shopping malls will remain shut. All hotels and restaurants around tourist and picnic spots will remain closed.
"Travel nodes leading to tourist/picnic spots closed; focus on Murree, Galiyat, Swat-Kalam, Sea View/beaches, and Northern Areas and other tourist destinations," the statement said.
Locals, especially people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, would be allowed to travel back home, the statement said.
A complete ban on inter-provincial, inter-city, and intra-city public transport will be observed except for private vehicles, taxis, rickshaws, with 50% occupancy.
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