Prime Minister announced to lift lockdown in phases from Saturday, May 9. He was addressing the nation after a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) in Islamabad.
“We’re deciding that we are ending this lockdown now,” PM Imran Khan said in a televised address about lockdown. “We know that we’re doing it at a time when our curve is going up[…] but it is not edging up as we were expecting.”
Prime Minister mentioned that the decision to lift the lockdown was made “because our people are suffering”. The Premier pointed toward the efforts of government to help the needy through Ehsas Relief Package but acknowledged that it would not fulfill the needs of all those in distress. He mentioned that “its those working in factories, shopkeepers, rikshaw drivers, taxi drivers and daily wage workers are ones affected most.”
Every sector is reeling under difficulties at present, small traders, rickshaw and taxi drivers, as well as labourers, are facing great hardships due to [to the lockdown],” he pointed out, adding no one can say for sure if coronavirus cases will see a spike after relaxation in the lockdown. “We can’t afford to keep the country shut for a long time.”
We have already opened the construction sector and we are going to open others sectors related to the construction industry,” he announced.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged people to take responsibility, saying that the success of the next phase depends on people following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government once the lockdown is lifted. He stressed the nation to take responsibility and become a part of the efforts to end this pandemic.
He hinted that if the corona cases spiked again after lockdown lift, it could be implemented again.
After the lockdown lift, shops will be allowed to open from Sehri till 5 pm. All shops and markets except essentials services will be closed for two days in a week.
Decision about Public transport is still pending although Mr. Khan wants to open it as it will help the poor, but all provinces are not on board for it. Hence public transport will remain shut for the time being.
Addressing the issue of repatriating overseas Pakistanis, the Premier pointed towards the difficulties faced by government to quarantine the repatriating Pakistanis, as the govt does snot have the resources to facilitate those. He stressed that “Self Quarantine” is the only solution. He said, his team is coordinating with provinces to develop SOPs for repatriating overseas Pakistani.
It is important to mention here that Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf clarified that not all of the stranded Pakistanis being flown back to the country are testing positive for the coronavirus. “This is a misconception. Please do not stigmatise those returning to the country,” he requested.
“We can’t bring back all at once because we would need to test every Pakistani coming back. We are considering [prime minister’s] self-quarantine policy and if provinces agree, then we will be able to bring 13 to 14,000 people per week,” said Yusuf.
Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood announced that all educational institutes including schools,colleges and universities will remain closed till July 15. Regarding the postponed examinations of boards, he mentioned that the exams have been cancelled. “We will pass or fail students based on their results from the previous year.” stated the Minister. “Students’ health and their education cannot be compromised,” he added.
Prime Minister’s focal person on Covid-19, Dr Faisal Sultan, said that the trajectory of the spread of virus was different for each country. “In the US, it spread like wildfire, where more Americans have now died from this virus than in Vietnam War,” he said, adding that Pakistan will have to consider its own context for decision-making purposes.
Like the prime minister, Dr Sultan also acknowledged the sharp spike in new coronavirus cases in the country but reasoned that this was because “we are testing more and more people everyday”.