ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Thursday said dine-in restaurants and beauty salons would reopen across Pakistan on August 10, as efforts against the coronavirus pandemic seemed to be bearing fruit.
During a briefing in the National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting, he said the COVID-19 pandemic had been controlled to a great extent due to the effective strategy of the government institutions, untiring efforts of doctors and paramedical staff and cooperation of the people, Geo News reported.
He said the National Coordination Committee (NCC) had decided that all the educational institutions would be opened on September 15 after a final review by the Ministry of Education on 7th September.
He said the people of Pakistan were the real heroes in defeating the pandemic, as they strictly followed the SOPs to check the spread of the pandemic. He said the strategy of a smart lockdown adopted by Pakistan was appreciated by the other countries and they were also learning from its experience.
He said a review on the decision to reopen educational institutions 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 parlors, 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, 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 move to reopen the country came following a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) and discussion on recommendations in the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), he said, referring to the primary body overlooks the efforts against the coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan and that he heads.
"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.
Speaking of the 'smart lockdown' and claims the world was learning from Pakistan, he said, "Just today, I was reading a printed article in an international magazine that advised the Philippines to look at Pakistan if it wanted to learn.
"This is all that we have achieved so far," he said. The minister explained that Prime Minister Imran Khan's PTI government had kept certain sectors and economic activities shut down till now but considering the aforementioned praise, the coronavirus numbers, and consultations, debates, and discussions between the NCC, NCOC, and the provinces, some new decisions had been made.
The relevant and revised standard operating procedures (SOPs) would be finalised in two days, he explained. However, "if we see a change in the attitude of the people, this situation may change [further]. The SOPs related to Muharram have been set up in consultation with the Ulema [religious scholars]," he added.