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Sindh makes vaccination, SOPs mandatory

KARACHI: The Sindh Home Department has issued a notification of change in the timing of lockdown giving relaxation to traders and general public including opening of beaches in view of the disease pattern in the province.

The government has extended closure of general business at 8pm. The restaurants and cafes can serve only in outdoors and allow takeaway and drive through till 12 midnight. The class IX and above including universities and other training, educational institutions to open up with 50pc capacity. It also allowed holding outdoor marriage functions from Friday June 11 with upper limit of 150 guests and family subject to complying with all SOPs.

However, the Sindh government has made vaccination a mandatory requirement allowing two weeks to all organizations, offices and businesses to get their employees and staff vaccinated. This would be followed by random checking of vaccination status of their staff and employees.

According to the notification, “The Provincial Task Force on Covid that met on June 6, Sunday found an increased disease incidence in Hyderabad and Karachi which was also highlighted by NCOC in its meeting. It decided that certain activities and businesses can be opened with caution and preventive measures keeping in view disease spread pattern in Sindh. It underlined following caution and continued SOPs implementation, so as not to let the recent disease decline reverse and made specific decisions on restrictions and opening of businesses and activities. Therefore, the Government of Sindh, keeping in view the decision of Provincial Task Force with inputs from team of medical and other experts and in exercise of powers under section 3(1) of Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act, 2014 (The Sindh Act VIII of 2015) declares the general guidelines and requirements following in Sindh with immediate effect:

Vaccination of all eligible individuals is the prime focus now along with SOPs as only prevention remains the strategy to contain the disease. Accordingly, all the organizations and offices and especially the businesses are required to ensure vaccination of their staff and employees at the earliest.

Making vaccination as mandatory requirement of the business establishment, the Home Dept announced a time margin of two weeks to all organizations, offices and businesses to get their employees and staff vaccinated. This would be followed by random checking of vaccination status of staff and employees. Alongside the vaccination, the government directive re-enforced and reiterated that strict implementation and following of the SOPs including mandatory wearing of mask in public, places and not allowing any business, customer and individual without masks. Observing distancing between individuals and avoiding crowd formation and crowding. Frequent hand washing and hand sanitization and provision of facilities to the staff, public, as applicable, by the businesses and concerns.

It also advised queue formations, floor markings and caution signboards at all public places by businesses and organizations. Installing notice board mentioning restricted capacity of individuals within any space, business concern and office at its entrance. No individual more than such capacity is to be allowed inside by the concerned, the Home Dept directed. The public transport and transport for staff and employees will ensure operation at 50% of its seating capacity while observing other SOPs as well.

It announced closure of general business at 8pm. Essential services as listed in earlier order of even number dated May-7, 2021 may continue. Bakeries and dairy milk shops must close at 12 midnight. Restaurants and cafes can open outdoor (no indoor dining) with takeaway and drive through till 12 midnight with seating distance of at least 3 feet.

Regarding academic activities, class IX and above including universities and other training, educational institutions to open up with 50pc capacity with the adjustment of timing and days to cover all students. The offices (public or private) encouraged to work from home and 50pc staff capacity at premises with distancing and other measures.

It allowed holding outdoor marriage functions from Friday June 11 with upper limit of 150 guests and family subject to complying all requirements as of this order. Small gatherings of close members inside homes in open ventilated spaces with distancing measures and other precautions.

It also announced that the businesses will remain closed for two days on Friday and Sunday for Karachi as decided in consultation with businesses in Karachi. For other districts and divisions of province of Sindh commissioners may declare any of two days (Friday/Saturday/Sunday) of week as per local situations. Similarly, the directive announced closure of inter-provincial transport on Saturday and Sunday as already decided by NCOC. Exhibition, Expo Centres and halls including marriage halls etc (will be reviewed as per disease spread pattern). All contact sports, indoor gyms and sports facilities, sport tournaments (horse riding, polo and golf etc being non-contact and held in open) are allowed, it said.

However, open spaces, walking tracks, parks, picnic spots and beaches will open subject to adherence to distancing measures and observance of SOPs. Action against violators and management including closure of space and facility may be warranted in case of non-adherence to SOPs, the home department warned.

Districts, cities, towns, hotspot areas with high number of positivity cases or areas, activities and businesses with gross violations may have any or all non-essential activity closed for sake of control of disease spread.