Punjab government finally allows industries, establishments to operate 24/7

As the COVID-19 cases are apparently under control, the provincial government has allowed factories to be reopened. The owners have been asked to strictly follow SOPs to contain the spread of novel Coronavirus. Is this decision a little too early?

Punjab government finally allows

The Punjab government finally allows industries, establishments, and factories to operate 24 hours a day, every day of the week, on the condition of practicing coronavirus-related standard operating procedures (SOPs), according to a notification.

In its notification, the Punjab government’s Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department said the move came on the back of “decisions of Cabinet Committee to combat Coronavirus threat taken in its meeting dated 4th August 2020”.

Moreover, all businesses related to the construction sector were allowed to operate 24/7 “subject to the adoption of SOPs/ guidelines”, it added. While the latest order was to come into effect immediately, all prior restrictions and exemptions, however, would continue to remain in force.

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In addition, the department’s secretary, Captain (R) Muhammad Usman, warned that any business that violated the coronavirus SOPs would be forced shut.

Consultations are underway

Notably, 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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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