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Web Desk
May 15, 2021

Markets to remain open till 8pm May 17 onwards: NCOC

Web Desk
Sat, May 15, 2021

The National Command and Operation Centre on Saturday announced that markets will remain open till 8pm from Monday, May 17 onwards.

Besides this, public transport — between provinces, cities and within cities — will resume functioning from tomorrow (Sunday) instead of the previously announced May 17 date of resumption.

A special session of the body managing the country's coronavirus response was held today to review the implementation of standard operating procedures throughout the "stay home, stay safe" May 8-16 period that had been set to curb the spread of the virus.

It was chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and co-chaired by National Coordinator Lieutenant General Hamood Uz Zaman Khan.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan also participated, while the provincial chief secretaries attended the session through video link.

According to a statement by the NCOC, the forum "expressed satisfaction on compliance" of SOPs during Eid holidays.

"Forum appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders especially the cooperation rendered by public across the country," read the statement.

After the review was conducted, the following decisions were announced:

- All inter-provincial, inter-city and intra-city public transport to resume from May 16 instead of previously given date of May 17. The transport will, however, be operative with 50% occupancy of passengers.

- Railways will maintain its operation with 70% occupancy.

- All markets and shops will remain open till 8pm from May 17 onwards.

- Normal working hours for offices will be resumed from May 17 onwards with the condition of 50% work from home.

According to the statement, a review of the remaining guidelines will be carried out on May 19.

The forum emphasised on the continued monitoring of SOP enforcement and appealed to public for adherence of these SOPs.

The NCOC also urged the public to ensure prior registration on 1166 prior to walking in for vaccination.

Stay home, stay safe curbs

Last month, the NCOC had announced comprehensive "stay home, stay safe" guidelines from May 8-16 to curb the spread of the virus.

The NCOC had ordered closing chand raat bazaars, shopping malls, public places, and recreational spots closed in the period.

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 were to remain closed except essential services, which include:

- Grocery stores

- Pharmacies/medical stores

- Medical facilities and vaccination centres

- Vegetables, fruit, chicken, and meat shops

- Bakeries

- 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 was to be observed for both locals and foreigners.

All tourist resorts, formal and informal picnic spots, public parks, shopping malls will remain shut and all hotels and restaurants around tourist and picnic spots will remain closed, the NCOC said

"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.

NCOC, however, said that locals, especially people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, would be allowed to travel back home.

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.

"Additional trains to manage extra passenger load till 7 May, thereafter normal train operation [will] be resumed. 70% occupancy along with stringent COVID SOPs [should] be ensured," it said.