COVID restrictions eased in Pakistan: NCOC allows outdoor dining, reopening of school

Pakistan further eased COVID restrictions amid decline in cases

Many Pakistanis heaved a sigh of relief as COVID-19 restrictions were further eased by the government after the partial lockdown on Eid holidays.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meeting, co-chaired by its Chairman Asad Umar and Chief Coordinator Lt-Gen Hamooduz Zaman allowed the phased reopening of educational institutions in COVID safe zones as well as increased business hours from next week.

The staggered reopening of educational institutions has been allowed in districts where the COVID positivity ratio is below 5% from May 24 (Monday) while examinations of secondary and higher secondary schools will start after June 20.

Outdoor dining at restaurants will be allowed daily till midnight, while takeaway will be allowed 24/7 from May 24. Tourism sector will also be reopened under strict COVID-19 protocols from May 24.

Restrictions eased

Following the meeting, these decisions regarding restrictions were taken:

  • Outdoor restaurants will be opened daily till 11:59 pm while takeaway will be allowed 24/7 from May 24.
  • Tourism sector will be reopened under strict COVID-19 protocols from May 24.
  • Educational institutes in districts with less than five per cent positivity rate will be reopened from May 24.
  • Outdoor marriage ceremonies will be allowed with a maximum of 150 people from June 1.
  • Elective surgeries will be reopened from June 1.
  • Educational institutes in all districts will be reopened in a staggered manner from June 7.
  • All matric and intermediate exams will be held after June 20. All professional and non-professional exams will take place on a case-to-case basis as recommended by the Ministry of Education.

Restrictions to continue

However, these restrictions will remain in place:

  • All shrines, cinemas, amusement parks and indoor gyms will remain closed. Tracks for walking and jogging will be allowed to remain open with strict adherence to SOPs.
  • Indoor dining will remain closed.
  • All contact sports, festivals, cultural, musical and other events will be banned.
  • All types of indoor and outdoor gatherings, including religious events will be banned.
  • Inter-provincial public transport will remain suspended on the weekends from May 22.

Health experts have warned and requested the government not to lift all restrictions altogether as it may send out mixed signals and people may stop following health guidelines which is a serious risk in a country of 207 million amid the slow vaccine roll-out.

Salma Khan
Salma writes on topics ranging from education to technology to business. She can be reached at Twitter and Facebook.

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