Punjab govt bans social gatherings in homes

Mapping of UCs ordered to prepare for lockdown at local level

Rameez Khan March 20, 2020
PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Thursday prohibited all functions, ceremonies and social gatherings on private premises, including homes, while also instructing the district administrations to complete mapping of every union council to prepare for a lockdown situation at the UC level, if needed.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Momin Agha issued the order banning gatherings on private premises under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, extending the restrictions imposed earlier to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The shutting of all gyms and snooker clubs was also ordered. The order will remain in force till April 4.

Meanwhile, the district administrations have been given two days to complete mapping of every union council, collecting information of every school, college, university, shop, house and even the number of residents to prepare for a lockdown situation if a sizable number of COVID-19 cases are reported from the same UC instead of locking down an entire area.

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During a meeting, Chief Secretary Major (retd) Azam Suleman Khan directed all administration and police officers to ensure strict implementation of the government’s instructions during the coronavirus national emergency to protect lives. The meeting reviewed steps being taken to prevent coronavirus, ensure uninterrupted supply of daily-use items and check hoarding.

It decided that entry of only goods transport would be allowed in Punjab from Sindh.

The chief secretary said there would be a complete ban on holding weddings or other ceremonies in farmhouses. The government had already banned wedding functions at halls, marquees and hotels.

He said that in the light of the government’s decision, all meetings would be held through video links, Skype calls and online conferencing and only skeleton staff would attend the offices, whereas the remaining officials would work online from their homes.

He mentioned that entry of general public in government offices has been suspended in view of their own protection and social distancing, however, all administrative secretaries, divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners, and heads of attached departments would notify, in the press, two landline numbers and one mobile number for contact of general public during office hours.

These numbers would also be displayed prominently outside offices at entry gates and officers of grade 17 and 18 would be deputed to attend calls on these numbers so that people could not face any problem in the resolution of their problems, he added.

He asked all officers to ensure compliance with the orders about the closure of all shops, shopping malls and restaurants by 10pm as no negligence would be tolerated in this regard.

The chief secretary also directed commissioners and deputy commissioners to prepare lists of family members of the persons being kept in quarantine and provide food hampers to families in case their bread earners were quarantined.

He also issued instructions to administrative officers to contact owners of private hospitals and hotels for establishing more isolation rooms in these buildings.

The meeting decided that desks would be set up for public outside offices of SHOs in police stations and police khidmat centres would remain closed till further orders. People can lodge their complaints with these desks instead of visiting the office in police stations.

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The meeting also took the decision to close all public parks and recreational places in the province, besides enhancing the number of Panahgahs in cities.

All deputy commissioners were asked to carry out mapping of hostels in their districts so that quarantine facility could be provided at these buildings in case of emergency.

The meeting was informed that the production of masks, gloves and sanitisers have been started locally, whereas 270,000 masks have been recovered during action against hoarding in Rawalpindi.

The meeting also decided to ensure tracking of passengers who arrived from China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other coronavirus-hit countries and availability of a sufficient quantity of sanitisers and soaps at offices, banks and shopping malls for hand washing during operational hours.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2020.

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