Imran eases lockdown, opens more businesses

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Saturday, SundStaff Reporter

Islamabad

The National Coordination Committee meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Monday decided to maintain a complete lockdown on weekends to curb the coronavirus and to not change shop timings. It also eased the restrictions for Fridays. The business will be allowed to operate for the other five days.
The meeting discussed whether or not the countrywide lockdown should be extended or relaxed, as coronavirus cases continue to surge across Pakistan.
Later, the Prime Minister, in a live televised address apprised the nation on the decisions made regarding the lockdown to contain the novel coronavirus during the National Coordination Committee meeting. Imran Khan announced that the government was gradually easing the lockdown imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus as it did not have ample resources to sustain economic losses for a longer period of time. Noting that the National Command and Operation Center met every morning and consulted everyone, including health experts from Pakistan and around the world, on every step, PM Imran spoke of the country’s response and the current situation regarding the coronavirus.
“Since day one when we got to know that the coronavirus had started spreading in Pakistan, we imposed a lockdown following a national security committee meeting.
He said he had earlier informed the nation that Pakistan’s condition was not the same as China and Europe as there were nearly 50 million people in the country below the poverty line and 25 million were daily wagers, who could not earn due to the lockdown.
“The virus spreads at a fast pace [and] imposing lockdown is not the cure to it… It only slows the spread of the virus. The lockdown helped reduce pressure on medical workers and hospitals,” he said.
“A lockdown is different for people in Pakistan as well. There are people who live in palaces and there are several people who live in slums — their approaches to the lockdown were different. “I did not want a lockdown like the one that was imposed in Pakistan [but] due to the 18th Amendment, the provinces took their own decisions due to pressure. “I would not have stopped business and construction as we had to balance the situation. Coronavirus is not going away unless until a vaccine is not formulated,” he said.
“If people take precautionary measures, we can tackle the virus. If we close specific areas, then the businesses of those areas will be affected.” “Several places only earn in three to four months of summers and if we do not open the tourism [industry], people will be adversely affected due to no income,” the premier said, noting that the governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan were mulling over it.
ay to remain closed; No change in shop timings; PM warns of dire consequences if SOPs not followed Citing the example of India, he said the lockdown had caused adversities there and people were forced into extreme poverty. “They have also lifted their lockdown as their economy cannot bear it anymore,” he said. “I want [the medical fraternity] to know that there are millions who have been affected by the lockdown.
“We are not in a state to extend the lockdown as it has had an adverse effect on our economy. Our exports have plunged and we fear that our remittances might fall as well.
“The government feels for you. Do not think that we do not take your conditions into account. I have decided to hold a meeting with their representatives as well.“I want overseas Pakistanis, especially labourers stranded in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and some others in Europe, to know that we are discussing how to bring them back.
Prime Minister Imran announced that Pakistani nationals stranded abroad will be allowed to come back to the country. “I want to talk about my overseas Pakistanis. I’m worried about our labourers in UAE and Saudi. They send valuable remmittances to us.
“So we have decided that we will bring all of them back and will test them. If they test positive, we will ask them to quarantine themselves but we will now bring everyone back.”
“Those with diabetes, blood pressure, and the elderly face a risk from the virus.