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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Is the government going to reopen marriage halls and parks?

The government is deliberating over the reopening of marriage halls, tourism and parks across the country. However, the challenge is; who is will ensure implementation of SOPs?

As the COVID-19 cares are persistently decreasing in Pakistan, the Government has started consultations with provinces over reopening marriage halls, tourism, restaurants, parks etc, said Federal Minister of Industries and Production, Hammad Azhar. Businessmen from across the country have demanded the government to let them reopen factories and marriage halls in order to deal with the current economic crisis. The government is mulling over if should reopen marriage halls and parks or not.

Prime Minister Imran Khan took a bold position at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan. He did not impose a curfew-like lockdown and argued for the selective lockdown to contain the spread of the virus and allow people to continue their economic activities. The premier was of the view that a strict lockdown would create unbearable challenges for the poor in Pakistan. Therefore, he maintained, the government shall seal off the areas badly hit by the virus.

Notably, the government had prepared the Negative List, in which those businesses were included that were not allowed to operate during the coronavirus lockdown.

Recently, Punjab government announced to reopen marriage halls in the Punjab from the first week of the September amid country-wide protest from the halls association over continuous closure of businesses during COVID-19 pandemic.

As per to details, the Marriage Halls Association threatened to march towards the Chief Minister House if they were not permitted to reopen their businesses under devised COVID-19 SOPs. Rana Raes, the president of the association had regretted in a statement that the government has turned a deaf ear to their demands despite being repeatedly approached. He assured that protesters will abide by SOPs during their protest.

In his tweet, the minister pointed out that the Centre has started consultations with provinces on “review and possible revision of sectors (subject to SOPs) on Negative List”.  “Started consultations at NCOC [National Command Operation Center] with provinces on review and possible revision of sectors (subject to SOPs) on Negative List of opening up. These include tourism, restaurants, marriage halls, parks etc,” Azhar said.

The industries minister said that the government was also mulling over the timings of the markets and industries. Azhar said that once the provinces had finalised their recommendations, it would be referred to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who will make the final decision.

“We have collected the proposals and have asked provinces to finalise SOPs and enforcement methods. The proposals will now be taken to NCC headed by PM to take final decisions in this regard within a few days,” he added.

Pakistan has stemmed the spread of the coronavirus to a certain extent and now the country aims at reviving its economic engine to move towards recovery.

So far a total of 280,461 cases have been detected in Pakistan, 2,097 in AJK, 11,777 in Balochistan, 2,198 in GB, 15,095 in Islamabad, 34,253 in Khyber Paktunkhwa, 93,336 in Punjab and 121,705 in Sindh.

Read More: Pakistanis want businesses to be reopened despite COVID-19, IPSOS survey

The government has repeatedly asked the public and business owners to ensure strict implementation of SOPs as devised by the WHO. If not followed properly, medical health experts fear, the case may increase to an unprecedented extent in the next few months in Pakistan.

Punjab seeks permission to reopen marriage halls, hotels

In the light of declining cases of coronavirus in the province, the Punjab government on Tuesday sent recommendations to the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) to consider reopening tourist destinations and restaurants with standard operating procedures SOPs and allowing industries to work round the clock.

Read More: Ease of Doing Business: Real Reforms are still to come

The provincial government has also recommended the opening of hotels, marriage and meeting halls with the implementation of all SOPs and has requested to revise the timings of all businesses across the province.