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October 15, 2020

Punjab issues SOPs for public gatherings

Lahore

October 15, 2020

LAHORE:The Punjab government has issued SOPs for holding mass/public gatherings in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

Through a notification on the recommendation by a technical working group the government has issued SOPs to prevent Covid-19 while organising/dealing with public gatherings. The notification addressed all administrative secretaries, commissioners, deputy commissioners, heads/chief executive officers of autonomous/semi-autonomous bodies and CEOs of district health authorities, Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department. In the context of Covid-19, mass gatherings are events that could amplify the transmission of the virus and potentially disrupt the country’s response capacity.

The public gatherings are categorised as very high risk gatherings. Under such condition crowd control is difficult as people may act under very high enthusiasm like political movement, public rallies, etc. The administration of districts concerned should take decisions to restrict, modify, postpone, cancel, or proceed with holding a mass gathering based on a rigorous risk assessment exercise, tailored to the event.

The risk assessment should be undertaken by respective public health authorities and event organisers with input from other relevant authorities i.e. emergencies, transport, safety, security etc., based on certain considerations such as normative and epidemiological context; evaluation of risk factors; capacity to apply prevention and control measures. As a guiding principal, districts where cases are on the rise and Covid-19 Test Positivity Rate (CTPR) is above 5pc, "very high risk mass gathering" activities will not be allowed.

All other gathering categories will have umbrella approval under provincial policy unless prohibition is notified by District Administration under required smart or micro smart lock down conditions. However, compliance to SOPS will be responsibility of concerned management and District Administration will closely monitor the compliance to SOPs.

The venue should be selected on the basis of space required i.e. 6 feet/person, preferably, in open spaces for very high risk or high risk activities detailing date and time and be organised after the approval of the district administration concerned. With regard to health conditions of participants/attendees, the persons with influenza like symptoms, fever, cough, etc should not be allowed to enter in the event/gathering. The provision of hand hygiene facilities like hand sanitizer, soap and washing water shall be ensured for all types of gatherings.

The use of face mask or covering shall be mandatory for all participants, organisers, staff, speakers, leaders and serving staff, while speakers may opt using face shields in case use of masks is not feasible while delivering speeches.

For physical distancing and crowd control, the event organisers should make sufficient arrangements to ensure inter-person distance of 6 feet throughout the event. Jumbling up of participants at any point (entry, waiting, seating, walking, standing, exit, eating, meal serving and collections) should be controlled, while floor marking, seating marking, queue management and staggered entry and exit should be taken to ensure social distancing. The management must observe approved timing of the event and arrange organised dispersal of the participants; allocate sufficient space forcameramen, media staff where required distancing among the media personnel can be ensured.

For environmental hygiene and disinfection, the organisers should ensure cleanliness, adequate waste collection bins, and transportation and disposal arrangements at the gathering venue. The high touch surfaces should be disinfected using disinfectants in recommended concentrations, while toilets and surfaces suspected for Covid-19 contamination should be cleaned with soap and water.

The sanitizer tunnels, misting, fogging or sprinkling of disinfectant are useless and may be harmful; thereby such practices should be prohibited.

The tool or device sharing is not permissible in gathering. If devices or tools like cellphone, pen/pencil/microphone, megaphone, etc are shared/ exchanged, immediately wipe them with alcohol swab and sanitize hands. The communal feast, eating and dirking are not encouraged. If meal is served, prefer lunch boxes or table serving by staff over self-serving buffet. The management should provide chlorinated drinking water and disposable glasses.

For health screening and contact tracing, the speakers for the very high risk and high risk gatherings should be Covid-19 test negative maximum 72 hours before the event; any person having fever and cough may be suffering from Covid-19, thereby such persons should be immediately isolated and referred for medical checkup. For formal events, organisers should maintain record of participants at least for 2 weeks after the event.