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August 11, 2020

Home department issues SOPs for businesses, educational institutions


August 11, 2020

The Sindh Home Department has issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are to be complied with by all the businesses and educational institution across the province.

The notification states that while a decline has been observed in COVID-19 cases, the disease is yet to be defeated, warning that the number of infections can rise if precautionary measures are not adopted.

The following are allowed to reopen on September 15 subject to strict compliance with the SOPs: educational and training institutes, marriage halls, business centres, expo halls, non-contact sports, sports clubs, gyms, sports facilities, sporting tournaments, indoor and outdoor sports without spectators, hotels, restaurants, cafés with takeaway and home delivery as well as home catering services, parks and grounds, beauty parlours and spas, cinemas and theatres, permitted and licensed gatherings, shrines, tourism and tourist hotels, public transport and social clubs.

Divisional commissioners along with their respective deputy commissioners or their authorised government functionaries along with heads of law enforcement agencies will hold meetings at divisional and district levels with representatives of businesses and shrines to ensure reopening with due focus on compliance with the SOPs.

Through an order, the provincial government or the district administration can restrict any or all activities or areas identified as hotspots or high-risk for the spread of COVID-19. Businesses, except pharmacies and other essential services, can operate six days a week (Fridays or Sundays off) from 6am to 8pm (6am to 9pm on Saturdays).

Restaurants and cafés can operate every day: limited customer dine-in from morning to 10pm and last order by 9pm (from morning to 11pm and last order by 10pm on Saturdays), takeaway from morning to 10pm (from morning to 11pm on Saturdays), and home delivery from morning to midnight.

The notification reiterated avoiding all places with the potential of crowding, and where attendance is absolutely essential, wearing a face mask, observing hand hygiene and social distance.

Face masks are mandatory whenever in public, but they can be taken off for the duration of meals. Keeping a distance of over three feet between any two people is compulsory at all times. Frequent hand washing or the use of a proper hand sanitiser is also obligatory.

Other required procedures include the screening of staff, visitors and customers with thermal guns. Owners, managers and incharges of businesses are responsible for providing masks, hand washing facilities and hand sanitisers. Staff and service providers are to be initially tested for COVID-19 and then screened on a daily basis.

Entry and service to symptomatic people is to be denied. Customers and visitors are to also be denied entry and service if not wearing face masks. Advance booking and appointment is to be ensured to avoid rush.

Queuing with marks on floor and direction boards or signs are to be employed with separate timed entry and exit of staff, customers and visitors.

Where seating arrangement is involved, it is to be ensured that seating is at a distance of over three feet between the occupants. Wherever fixed seats are installed, clear markings and placement of appropriate objects to indicate their unavailability should be ensured.

All closed spaces should allow a limited number of people inside. No procession or gathering will be allowed without advance permission. Urs activities at shrines will be limited to the performing of essential rituals with a limited number of people.

Restrictions on public as applicable to closed spaces for allowing a limited number of persons will apply at shrines during Urs days, and all extra activities are forbidden. Wherever a place, surface, item, artefact, object or any other thing is touched or used by any individual, it is required to be properly wiped clean and disinfected with chlorine solution.

Staff must wash their hands frequently and properly before attending to any visitor or customer. SOPs should be displayed at the entrance. They should also be displayed through banners and Panaflex. Surprise inspections will be conducted with random COVID-19 screening of staff and service providers.

Any person violating any of the instructions will be liable for action in accordance with the law. Secretaries of all government departments entrusted with the regulation of above-mentioned businesses as well as divisional commissioners may issue further directions or notices to put this order into effect or to clarify for implementation purposes.

Any such direction or notice is to be issued by taking on board the respective law enforcement agencies to ensure a proper implementation mechanism. A special inspection team comprising representatives of the district administration and the relevant departments along with law enforcers authorised by the respective district, divisional or departmental heads may inspect any place at any time to ensure compliance with the SOPs.