QUETTA: After numerous talks with the provincial traders, the Balochistan government has decided to ease lockdown across the province, allowing business activities from Monday in Quetta and other cities.
The decision was announced in a joint news conference held at the Deputy Commissioner Office in Balochistan’s provincial capital.
Prior to the announcement, the government’s committee comprising provincial minister Saleem Khosa, MPA Asghar Khan Achakzai and Quetta Deputy Commissioner Aurangzeb Badini thoroughly discussed smart-lockdown and related standard operating procedures (SOPs) with traders’ leadership.
It was decided by the committee that “following the SOPs decided by the provincial government and traders union, a smart-lockdown will be imposed from Monday under which shops will open and business activities will take place from 3am till 5pm. The practice will continue till Eidul Fitr”.
The government has asked traders to ensure implementation of decided SOPs. Tailors, medical stores and hair dressers, on the other hand, are also allowed to open their shops.
“Only four customers will be allowed to enter a shop at a time while Balochistan government will strictly monitor the implementation of the rules,” Provincial Minister Saleem Khosa and MPA Asghar Khan Achakzai said, adding that authorities would take action over violation of SOPs.
“Indeed we have been easing lockdown under harsh circumstances when Covid-19 cases have peaked in Balochistan. The smart-lockdown will stay in place till Eid.”
Meanwhile, the government and traders agreed to decide future strategy if the number of active cases of novel coronavirus does not decrease.
To a query regarding imposing restrictions on prayers in mosques, MPA Achakzai said it was only after consensus with the religious scholars that the government introduced SOPs for group prayers.
Sharing details about ration distribution in Balochistan, provincial minister Khosa said in the first phase government distributed food items among 300,000 people across the province while a Qarz-e-Husna scheme will also be announced in the coming weeks for this purpose.
Meanwhile, addressing the news conference, Anjuman-e-Tajiran Balochistan President Raheem Kakar said they have faced losses worth millions of rupees due to Covid-19 lockdown but decided in the national interest to close businesses to prevent the spread of the virus.
The traders also urged the government to open sealed shops during smart-lockdown.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2020.