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NCOC meeting: Businesses to operate 5 days a week, close at 8PM 

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) has issued renewed standard operating procedures (SOPs) in view of the surging coronavirus cases in the country.

As per the new guidelines which will be implemented with immediate effect, all businesses will only be allowed to operate five days a week, while all commercial activities will be closed by 8PM.

Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar chaired a meeting attended by the chief secretaries of all provinces via video link.

The forum expressed grave concern over the current COVID-19 situation in the country and unanimously agreed to implement high-impact interventions in cities with positivity ratio above 8 percent to contain the spread of the disease.

In cities with a coronavirus positivity ratio of less than 8%, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) which are already in place will continue to be enforced based on risk assessment and disease prevalence.

According to a notification issued, it has been decided to implement broader lockdowns with stringent enforcement protocols based on risk assessment. No mobility will be allowed except for emergencies.

All type of indoor dining will be closed. However, outdoor dining will be permitted till 10:00pm and takeaways will be allowed.  All commercial activities (less essential services) will be closed by 8:00pm. Two safe days per week will be observed. The hoice of days will be at the discretion of the federating units.

Gatherings with an upper limit of 300 persons will be allowed with strict adherence to COVID-19 SOPs. However, all types of indoor gatherings involving cultural, musical/religious or miscellaneous events will be banned. There will be complete closure of cinemas and shrines and ban on contact sports, festivals, cultural and other events.

Outdoor wedding functions till 10:00pm with an upper limit of 300 guests will be allowed with strict adherence to COVID-19 SOPs (event duration two hours only). No indoor functions will be allowed.

There will be omplete closure of amusement parks, however, walking/jogging tracks will remain open with strict adherence to COVID-19 SOPs. 50% work-from-home policy will continue for public and private offices.

Intercity public transport to operate at 50% of capacity, while railwar service will operate at 70% of capacity. Compulsory mask-wearing will be ensured by all federating units while incorporating innovative measures for enforcement.

These high impact interventions will be implemented immediately and will remain enforced till April 11, 2021. A review of the situation will be carried out at the NCOC on April 7, 2021.

The statement further said that a review of decisions related to the education sector, enforced with effect from March 10, 2021, will be carried out on March 24, 2021 at the NCOC.