Restaurants, resorts get govt nod to open

Aleem says lockdown restrictions will be eased further

​ Our Correspondent May 29, 2020
LAHORE: Though the number of coronavirus cases is on the rise, the provincial government has given a green signal for reopening restaurants and tourist resorts.

However, the formal approval in this regard has been linked with a go-ahead from the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), the national body monitoring and making decisions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

On the directives of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Senior Minister Abdul Aleem Khan chaired a meeting of the cabinet committee on anti-coronavirus measures on Thursday. After evaluating the latest situation of coronavirus virus spread, Aleem Khan said the government would further ease restrictions in a phased manner if all the stakeholders show responsibility and strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

In Punjab, owners seek to reopen restaurants

The meeting participants discussed various issues related to the coronavirus at length and decided to open restaurants across the province following approval of the NCOC. It was decided in the meeting all tourist spots, including Murree and the Galiyat, will also be opened after approval of the national centre.

It was also decided in the meeting that Punjab Public Service Commission’s interviews would be conducted on the condition of implementing the safety SOPs.

The senior minister directed the officials of the Punjab Health Department to give a daily media briefing about the latest situation in the province. He also directed the officials concerned to implement a reduction in public transport fares across the province as the government has reduced petroleum products’ prices.

The meeting was informed that the health departments were given a collective coronavirus budget of around Rs11.5 billion. The Specialised Healthcare Department released Rs960 million to hospitals; spent Rs260 million on personal protection equipment (PPE) procurement along with an expenditure of Rs570 million for medicines’ purchase. Similarly, Rs5 million to Rs100 million were released to 24 hospitals according to their needs and both the departments spent around Rs5 billion. A field hospital in Expo Centre, Lahore was erected with an amount of Rs20.5 million.

The participants of the meeting were further informed that 6,699 coronavirus patients have been discharged from hospitals and quarantine centres after recovery in Punjab, while 1,073 are admitted in Specialised Healthcare Department’s hospitals. As many as 897 coronavirus patients are under treatment in the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department’s hospitals. In addition, 275 coronavirus patients are under treatment in various private hospitals.

Meanwhile, 1,266 people are in home isolation and 65 critical patients are on ventilator support. The Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department traced 17,600 social contacts and around 125,000 tests have been conducted.

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Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid maintained that the opposition was busy in issuing statements while the government was performing its duty.

On the other hand, traders and shopkeepers reiterated their demand to increase business hours. Traders said the government should allow shopkeepers to keep their businesses open till 9pm as owing to summer heat no customers visit markets during the day.

A trader from Allama Iqbal Town, Sheikh Rafiq, highlighted that the whole market was open but there was hardly any customer. Shopkeepers were awaiting customers but owing to scorching summer heat no customer was seen in the market.

He demanded that besides opening other sectors the government should also pay attention to small shopkeepers who had already suffered huge losses owing to the coronavirus lockdown.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2020.


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