QUETTA: The government of Balochistan on Tuesday imposed a complete lockdown in the entire province as strict preventive measures aimed at tackling the outbreak of the novel coronavirus went into play.
According to a notification issued by the Home and Tribal Affairs Department, the authorities have imposed Section 144 throughout the province. The decision was taken to ensure public safety, conserve lives and maintain peace and tranquility in the province.
The instructions issued by the provincial government to the public included a complete ban on public getting out of their homes, all kinds of social and religious gatherings or any public or private event. All public and private offices were ordered closed.
However, exemptions were made from the orders for essential services such as personnel working in hospitals, laboratories and medical stores, law enforcement agencies personnel, people in need of urgent medical care with one attendant, people going out to buy grocery and medicines within the vicinity of their residence, burials of people that have passed away with all the necessary precautions taken against the spread of disease and any other exemptions deemed necessary by the provincial home department.
The orders further relayed that only one person may travel in a private vehicle and one attendant may accompany any patient in case of a medical emergency. One person per family was allowed to go out to purchase grocery and medicines whereas the elderly or handicapped persons were allowed to be assisted by a driver.
Persons on vehicles transporting essential food items, medicines, medical equipment, farms, mills or factories may be assisted by one helper or cleaner during the transportation. It is imperative for everyone travelling to carry their CNIC and official card or an authority letter duly signed and stamped by the head of the concerned department or business concerned.
All personnel of the exempted departments must travel and work keeping in view the social distance (1 meter/3 feet) and take safety precautions against the spread of coronavirus. Large departmental stores will only keep their grocery section open while all other sections will remain closed. They will allow customers to enter stores in smaller groups while fulfilling the condition of social distancing.
All departmental stores were ordered to ensure that their grocery trollies are disinfected after every use. Public and private telecom/cellular companies and their franchises with limited public dealing apart from call centers with no public dealing were also allowed to operate.
Essential staff of banks with limited public dealing, defence-related manufacturing industries, food items manufacturing industries and distribution offices, fish, meat, vegetable/fruit vendors and dairy shops, dry port operations and customs services, petrol pumps and auto workshops, fruit, vegetable, cattle and grain markets apart from welfare organizations providing services were also given permission.
Media personnel authorized by concerned media houses and newspaper hawkers were allowed to move freely as well. The order would remain in force in the entire province with effect from 12:00pm on March 24 till 12:00pm on April 7 unless modified.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2020.