Small markets get nod to open

Tiger Force to help district administration enforce SOPs


​ Our Correspondent May 11, 2020
A woman shops in a grocery store. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The federal capital has decided to reopen small markets for five days a week even as the lockdown was extended for three weeks until May 31. Moreover, the Tiger Force, created by the prime minister, will help the district administration ensure that the standard operating procedures listed by the government for relaxations in the lockdown are strictly adhered to.

In a notification dated May 9 but issued early on Sunday morning, the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat listed the particulars of the lockdown, imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Shafqaat said that proprietors and owners of enterprises and the related association or representative bodies will be responsible for ensuring that standard operating procedures (SOPs) for social distancing are implemented at \commercial sites.

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The district administration has warned that those found flouting or violating the orders will be sealed and fined while further punitive action leading to criminal charges could also be taken.

To ascertain that all exempted businesses follow the SOPs, volunteers of the Corona Relief Tiger Force (CRTF) have been empowered to inspect and report violations of SOPs to the concerned sub-divisional magistrates or assistant commissioners.

Five days a week

The district administration said that they are moving to the second phase of relaxations for the construction sector and all businesses linked with it.

The DC said that they have permitted manufacturers and shops dealing in steel and PVC pipes, electrical appliances, ceramic and paint industries to open during weekdays, provided they adopt the precautionary measures.

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Further, all factories excluded in the negative list, including those linked with export, have been allowed to resume their operations.

The ICTA, Shafqaat said, will issue a separate, detailed notification to the appropriate authorities in this regards.

Shopping malls, Information and Technology (IT) centres will remain closed, but community and other small markets in the rural areas have been permitted to reopen under the SOPs.

However, these commercial centres and sites will also operate for five days a week.

While the district administration had already lifted the ban on visiting the hiking trails in the Margalla hills, it also removed the ban on parks, golf course, polo clubs, and tennis courts provided there are no large public gatherings while the visitors and staff there abide by the precautionary measures such as face masks and maintaining social distance.

Whole week

The ICTA has also exempted many businesses, dealing in essential services, from the restriction of operating only part of the week. However, they have been divided into two categories.

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In the first, grocery stores, bakeries, dairy shops, butchers, fruit, vegetable and cattle markets and shops, bread ovens (tandoors), and all auto workshops can operate the whole week but only between 9am and 5pm.

Postal and courier services and their relevant inter-city and inter-provincial vehicular movement will also follow the same time table.

However, the district administration exempted tyre and spare parts shops, driver rest stop hotels, fuel pumps, oil depots, and restaurants - only for take-away and delivery purposes - from any time restrictions.

Complete closure

The notification, however, stated that the main commercial centres in all sectors including Blue Area, Aabpara, Karachi Company, Jinnah Super etc will remain shut until further orders.

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Furthermore, major markets in rural areas of Islamabad such as Rawat, Barakhu, Tarnol, and others will also remain shut.

Educational institutions, dining halls of restaurants and hotels, hair salons, barbershops as well as gymnasiums and other places of public gathering such as marquees and cinemas will also remain closed.

The ban on public processions and congregations as well as on organised events will also remain in place.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2020.

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