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NCOC withdraws decision to lift restrictions on indoor dining, weddings, cinemas

Outdoor dining and outdoor policy will continue from March 15 to April 15

NCOC withdraws decision
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Amid surging COVID-19 cases across the country, the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) has withdrawn its decision to lift restrictions on indoor dining, weddings.

While the educational institutions in seven cities of Punjab have also been close down for two weeks from March 15 (Monday) in light of rising Covid-19 cases.

On Wednesday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr. Faisal Sultan in a press conference along with federal Minister Shafqat Mehmood after the NCOC meeting briefed about the new decisions.

He told that earlier it was decided to lift restrictions on indoor weddings, dine-in restaurants, and cinemas by March 15. However, in light of the current situation, that decision has been taken back. However, outdoor dining will continue, he said.

“Outdoor dining and outdoor policy will continue from March 15 to April 15,” he said, adding that this will be reviewed again at the end of this period.

“Outdoor weddings will continue as well as a limit of 300 guests. The review of all these steps will be done on April 1,” he said.

“These are baseline decisions. If any province wishes to take further steps according to their numbers, then they have the right to do so.”

Furthermore, due to a rise in coronavirus cases, people are advised to wear masks in public spaces at all times.

He said 50 percent of employees are required to work from home, while commercial activities will close at 10 pm.

In addition, amusement parks will close at 6 pm, he stated.

“If any province or city wants to close earlier, they can exercise their own judgment,” he added.

PM’s aide stressed that the country’s healthcare system comes under pressure as the number of patients in medical institutions increases.

“Therefore, we considered it prudent to tell you in a timely manner that cases are increasing and the positivity rate is also increasing,” said Dr. Sultan.

“We are seeing more patients in hospitals compared to a month ago,” he said, adding that authorities were now stressing the use of face masks to curb the spread of the virus.

The PM’s aide also stated that the vaccination of those above 60 years of age had started across Pakistan from today and urged citizens to register themselves for inoculation.

While earlier in the day, Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar presided over the NCOC meeting attended ministers from all the provinces and federating units.

The meeting looked into the comprehensive updates and reviews about non-pharmaceutical interventions already issued and which were valid till March 15, a press release said.

“The decisions regarding NPIs are the baseline decisions. Federating units are at liberty to impose stricter NPIs in selected cities or districts keeping in view the local disease spread,” the press release stated.

Following decisions were made in the NCOC meeting:

  • Strict compliance with mask-wearing will continue across the board
  • Smart lockdowns/ micro-smart lockdowns will continue to be imposed based on disease prevalence
  • 50pc work from a home policy will be implemented at the discretion of federating units. However, it will be enforced in Islamabad with immediate effect
  • The time limit of 10 pm on all commercial activities will be re-enforced with immediate effect
  • Amusement parks across the country will be closed at 6 pm
  • An earlier decision of allowing indoor weddings, indoor dining, and the opening of cinemas and shrines with effect from March 15 has been withdrawn. However, outdoor dining/ takeaway will continue to remain open as per previous practice
  • Outdoor gatherings will continue to remain limited to a maximum of 300 individuals with strict enforcement of Covid-19 SOPs
  • A review of all enforced non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) will be carried out on April 12

the authorSaman Siddiqui
Saman Siddiqui, A freelance journalist with a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication and MS in Peace and Conflict Studies. Associated with the media industry since 2006. Experience in various capacities including Program Host, Researcher, News Producer, Documentary Making, Voice Over, Content Writing Copy Editing, and Blogging, and currently associated with OyeYeah since 2018, working as an Editor.