Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to implement the National Command and Operations Centre’s decision to lockdown the country from May 8-16 to ensure safety of the public from the prevailing third wave of coronavirus during the forthcoming Eid holidays.
The decision was taken in a meeting of the Provincial Task Force on Covid-19 with K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in the chair.
Discussions pertaining to countering the third wave of coronavirus and the decision to implement a strict lockdown were reviewed in all respects.
It was decided to close all business activities except for general and medical stores, tandoor shops and a few other exceptions granted by the NCOC.
Public transport will remain open on Saturday and Sunday to facilitate those going back home on Eid whereas tourist destinations across the province were to remain completely closed during the lockdown.
The meeting was informed that those caught violating the lockdown will be sent back to their homes and a fine will be imposed on them.
However, cargo traffic and business shipments will remain open during the lockdown.
Standard operating procedures have also been issued for the last Friday of Ramazan and Eid prayer gatherings.
Officials concerned also informed the meeting about the plan to strictly implement SOPs and special arrangements that have been made to ensure adequate supply and availability of daily necessities during the lockdown.
Health department officials briefed the meeting about the latest situation of coronavirus in the province, capacity of hospitals, vaccination campaign and other issues.
More than 2.5 million people have been vaccinated against Covid so far and more than 25,000 people are being vaccinated on a daily basis while the target is to vaccinate 60,000 people daily by next month, the meeting was told.
As a result of smart lockdowns earlier and other measures taken by the government, the situation in the province has improved significantly in the last two weeks.
Expressing his fear of a large scale outbreak of the coronavirus after Eid, CM Mahmood said, “Our slight negligence on Eid can lead us into a big problem.”
He added that there is a dire need for precautionary measures and implementation of SOPs during Eid. “It is imperative for people to celebrate Eid with simplicity and celebrate Eid holidays at home,” the CM said.
The provincial chief executive also appealed to the political leaders and elected representatives to avoid meeting people and attending gatherings on Eid.
Apart from provincial ministers, the corps commander of Peshawar, chief secretary and other concerned officials besides the IG Police were also in attendance.
Citizens continue violation
On the other hand, citizens continued flocking to markets in large numbers for Eid shopping before the lockdown that was earlier being interpreted as extended Eid holidays.
Markets were filled with buyers and it seemed as if the public did not have any fear about the prevailing third wave of coronavirus.
There has been significant increase in Eid shopping in shopping malls and commercial areas across the city. Shoppers throng to markets from 9am to 6pm causing all the malls and market places in the city to be overcrowded.
The number of buyers in different markets of Peshawar is constantly increasing. Some shopkeepers have also started opening their shops at 830am in view of the proposed lockdown from next week. Police has also failed to shut down shops at 6pm.
Despite repeated calls for strict implementation of Covid SOPs, citizens continue violations. Only some people are seen donning masks but social distancing cannot be witnessed anywhere in the city except government offices.
Citizens are prioritising Eid shopping over their lives and the huge crowds in markets are likely to increase the spread of coronavirus.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2021.