This year Eid ul Fitr has come amidst the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan. In 2020, there was a sudden shift worldwide in how Eid was to be celebrated on account of the emergence of coronavirus worldwide. This year, we find ourselves in a similar situation, if not worse. Last year, local markets and malls were asked to observe shorter business hours and those not wearing face masks were not allowed to enter. While the celebration of Eid was not prohibited altogether, certain restrictions were imposed by the government. Under the standard operating procedure (SOP) agreed between the government and religious leaders, a distance of two-metres was to be maintained between those offering prayers at mosques and mass gatherings were prohibited.
However, hundreds of people turned up at many mosques for Eid prayers. Hundreds of thousands visited families and friends in large gatherings. This year, with a greater threat perception from the virus, the government has ordered stricter measures. A lockdown has been imposed and a long Eid break has been announced. The government has urged citizens to stay home and stay safe. Around the world, Muslims celebrating Eid have been advised to stay home rather than visit one another or attend mass gatherings. The governments in Pakistan too are requesting the people to celebrate an austere Eid rather than risk lives by following the traditional patterns of Eid shopping, greetings and partying.
The long Eid break, weekend lockdowns and a closure of all ‘non-essential’ shops and offices have adversely affected the national economy. Business people are complaining of a lack of productivity under the twin pressure of the pandemic and fasting. Shorter working hours and closure of banks have been a major disruption to the day to day work flow of local businesses. However, doctors and public health experts say the restrictions will help curtail the spread of the virus. A major challenge for local authorities is the implementation of the SOPs. With more than 800,000 cases of infection documented in the country it is important that we follow all the precautions with the patience and discipline acquired over the holy month of Ramazan and curtail further spread of Covid-19.