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March 26, 2020

Sindh tightens lockdwon to ensure effective fight against coronavirus


March 26, 2020

After a notification issued by the Sindh home department late on Tuesday night tightened the lockdown in the province, Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar directed the provincial police force to implement the new orders.

In his directive to his subordinates, including all the range DIGs and district SSPs of Sindh, the IGP referred to the home department notification and told the officers to implement the new orders in the notification.

The police chief told the police force to implement the ban on movement of persons from 8pm till 8am except in case of medical emergency or the staff related to essential services.

The IGP also told the police to ensure that the grocery and departmental stores were also closed during the aforesaid timings. The same rule also applies to medical stores, except those that are within public or private hospitals or adjacent to them. The police were directed to ensure that no industries, except those related to essential food items and medical and related items for domestic consumption, operated at any time of the day.

IGP Mahar told the police force that all industrial units producing any non-essential items must remain closed as the gathering of factory workers could help spread COVID-19. “In this regard, I am directed to convey you additional measures and guidelines as it has become extremely urgent to implement [them] for the purpose of breaking the chain of spread of the virus and police shall ensure implementation of such guidelines in letter and spirit,” the IGP’s directive read.

The notification

As the government did not get the desired results during the first two days of the lockdown, the home department issued another order on Tuesday night that specified the timings of grocery stores among other directives.

“Whereas, there has been a need to take further preventive measures in the wake of increasing coronavirus cases (COVID-19) in Sindh, therefore, the Government of Sindh, in exercise of powers conferred under Section 3(1) of the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act 2014 (The Sindh Act VIII of 2015), and in continuation of earlier order dated March 22, 2020, is satisfied that it has become extremely urgent and important to implement following additional measures for the purpose of breaking the chain of spread of the virus.

“No industry, except that is related to essential food items, and medical and related items for domestic consumption is allowed to operate at any time of the day,” the notification read.

It added that all the industrial units involved in production and packaging of any non-essential items and those not related to health and food were to be closed as the unnecessary gathering of factory workers and their movement in mass numbers could spread the viral disease in large numbers.

According to the notification, the government offices and other essential services’ offices, which were allowed to work in the earlier order, would operate only with bare minimum staff. As for the general public, the notification imposed a strict ban on their movement from 8pm to 8am unless there was some health emergency. All the grocery, convenience, general and departmental stores were told to remain closed during this time.

“No medical stores (except those situated within or adjacent to public and private hospitals) are allowed to operate during this time. Movement of any person is strictly not allowed during this time except in medical emergency or staff responding to issues related to essential services like electricity, gas, emergency and hospital staff,” the notification read.

The new directives were to remain in force for a period of thirteen days starting Wednesday. The Sindh government in exercise of its powers under the Section 3(1) read with 3(3) of the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act also empowered the commissioners and deputy commissioners of the respective divisions and districts in the province to issue any further orders, directions or notices in coordination with the respective DIGs and SSPs for the implementation of the new order in letter and spirit.

Any person disobeying the order or facilitating its defiance in any manner shall be deemed to have committed an offence punishable under the Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal code as provided under the Section 4 of the said law, the notification read. The government also empowered the deputy commissioners, assistant commissioners and personnel of law enforcement agencies above the rank of inspector or equivalent under the Section 3(1) of the said Act to take any legal action against any contravention of the new order.