Pakistan, India ease Covid-19 curbs for businesses

Arch rivals switch to smart lockdown allowing some activities under guidelines


Reuters April 26, 2020
A Reuters file photo.

NEW DELHI/ ISLAMABAD: The Indian government allowed a limited reopening of shops in neighbourhoods and residential areas from Saturday, more than a month after the nation went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, officials said.

Late on Friday the home ministry said retail shops could start operations with the staff number reduced by 50%, while also requiring appropriate social distancing, wearing of masks and gloves during work. The sale of liquor and other non-essential items will continue to be prohibited, and no shops in large market places, multi-brand and single-brand malls will be allowed to open for business till May 3.

In neighbouring Pakistan, the government extended the nationwide lockdown till May 9. However, it is switching to a “smart lockdown” from Saturday for targeted tracking and tracing of cases while allowing some industrial and commercial activities to begin under safety guidelines.

“Isolating these cases and their contacts will improve our ability to contain the disease alongside allowing the economy to function and people to get employment,” said Asad Umar, Pakistan’s planning minister.

He emphasised that adhering to the government’s virus containment measures will enable further re-starting of parts of the economy.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2020.

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