NCOC lifts curb on commercial activities amid decline in Covid-19 cases

Condition for offices to enforce 50% work-from-home policy also lifted


News Desk February 24, 2021
A man wearing a protective mask walks through a crowd of people along a makeshift market as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues, in Karachi, Pakistan January 17, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

With the novel coronavirus cases dropping across the country, the federal government on Wednesday decided to lift the time limit from commercial activities and amusement parks as well as the condition for public/private offices to enforce 50% work-from-home policy for staff.

According to the fresh directives from the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) – the nerve centre of the government’s unified efforts to stem Covid-19 spread – indoor wedding ceremonies will be allowed from March 21, 2021, with stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The NCOC allowed the opening of cinemas and shrines with effect from March 15 but also asked the masses to continue to adhere to SOPs of wearing masks, social distancing and said that the policy of smart lockdowns will continue when required.

Read more: Covid-19 vaccination drive to kick off from next week: Asad

It also permitted the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to increase spectator attendance in Pakistan Super League (PSL) to 50% from 20% for pool matches whereas full attendance is permitted for play-offs with stringent Covid-19 SOPs.

Covid-19 first emerged in the country in February last year and hit a peak in mid-June. However, it started to decline in the following months but surged again in October 2020, prompting the government to issue a warning of the second wave.

Last week, the NCOC unveiled a comprehensive plan to administer the vaccine for the Covid-19 across the country. It said that the vaccine strategy plan had been formulated by the federation in consultation with all provinces and stakeholders.

The plan was adopted in a meeting of the NCOC held in Islamabad. The session was chaired by Asad Umar and attended, among others, by National NCOC Coordinator Lt Gen Hamooduz Zaman Khan and Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood.

The forum was informed that vaccination centres had been established across the country, whereas staff trainings and other arrangements had been completed to kick-start the inoculation of Covid-19 vaccine.

According to an NCOC statement issued here, the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) will run the drive at the national level through the National Vaccine Administration and Coordination Cell (NVACC), which has been set up in the NCOC.

“All citizens, including frontline healthcare workers, will be able to register by sending their ID card number to 1166 via SMS or NIMS website,” it said. “The goal of the vaccine strategy is to vaccinate people under an integrated system.”

The NIMS system is digital, wherein human intervention is very limited. This system is designed to automatically send scheduled time and other details to the registered citizens. Upon availability of the vaccine, citizens will be sent an SMS, conveying the date of appointment.

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