PM announces partial lifting of lockdown

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced opening of lockdown in phases from Saturday.

In a media briefing, after National Coordination Committee meeting regarding COVID-19 on Thursday, he said the decision has been taken in consultation with all the provinces to ease out people’s lives. He said labourers, ordinary people, and small business had suffered a lot due to lockdown, which prompted us to open the curbs. He said 35 percent of our revenue collection has decreased, while exports have also come down. He said we have already opened the construction sector and from today we are going to open various sectors relating to the construction industry.

The Prime Minister appealed the people to observe self-discipline and Standard Operating Procedure to prevent spread of Coronavirus pandemic, when curbs of lockdown are eased.

He said we can again go for lockdown if Coronavirus cases increase in the country to beyond limits.

He said social distancing and precautionary measures are prerequisites to avoid spread of the virus and a responsible society realizes this fact.

Imran Khan said we have to protect our people, especially the downtrodden, from Corona as well as hunger and other diseases. He said we have given the biggest ever relief package of country’s history to support the under privileged people, who lost their jobs or businesses due to Coronavirus.

He said we have passed on dividends of reduced oil prices in the international market by slashing prices of petrol and diesel. He said petroleum prices in Pakistan are the lowest in the region. 

The Prime Minister said there was lack of consensus on opening of public transport. He said there was a disagreement among provinces over this matter and we do not open this sector without provinces’ will.

Prime Minister’s Focal Person on COVID-19 Dr Faisal said undoubtedly, tally of corona cases has gone up in the country, which has put some pressure on our health system, but it should be clear that our health system has the capacity to handle the situation and we have yet not reached to a saturated point. Dr Faisal urged people to observe social distancing and SOPs recommended by the government for the containment of the pandemic.

Giving detail of the decision taken at the NCC, Planning Minister Asad Umar said small markets and shops in mohallas and rural areas will be allowed to open from Fajar to 5 p.m. He said the entire business, except outlets of essential items like food and medicines will remain closed in two days of the week.

Giving details of construction related industries and shops, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said the government has allowed to open pipe mills, paint manufacturing units and all relevant shops from Saturday (May 09).

Similarly, he said ceramic sanitary ware, tile electrical cables and switch gear manufacturing units and shops would also be opened from the given date.

Further, steel and aluminum manufacturing units and all relevant shops had also been allowed to open their production and business, he added.

Asad Umar said small markets, the shops that are in localities and villages with no chance of big gathering, would also be open from May 09. However he said all these shops would remain open five days a week from Sehri time to 5:00 pm.

The 5th decision, he said was to allow some selected hospitals to open outpatient departments (OPDs) to facilitate the patients suffering from various diseases.

Umar said the meeting also decided that educational institutions would remain closed till July 15.

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said it has been unanimously decided to open allied industries of the construction sector, which include paint and pipe mills, tiles, electrical and industry and hardware stores across Pakistan.

Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood said educational institutions will remain closed till 15 July. He said all the board examinations have been cancelled and students will be promoted to the next class and they can get admission in colleges and universities on the basis of their previous result. For example, a student can get admission in a university on the basis of his 11th class result.

Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on National Security Division Moeed Yousaf said all the stranded Pakistanis will be brought back. He said so far, 20,000 overseas Pakistanis have been brought back from various countries. He said 40,000 stranded Pakistanis will be brought back from 32 countries next week. He said we will be brought back 7500 stranded Pakistanis every week.