MUZAFFARABAD: On Tuesday, the government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) agreed to re-impose a full lockdown across the region for two weeks after an unprecedented increase in cases involving Covid-19.
The lockdown will take place on Sunday (Nov 22) from 12:01 a.m. until 12 p.m. on December 6, much in accordance with the previous trend, with the exception of approval for public transport to work in full conformity with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), agreed by the cabinet of the AJK, chaired by Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.
Speaking at a press conference, four cabinet members, Senior Minister Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, Minister of Health Dr Najeeb Naqi, Minister of Population Welfare Dr Mustafa Bashir and Minister of Education Barrister Iftikhar Gillani, said the decision was taken after threadbare debate on how to curb the resurgence of the deadly viral disease in a territory that had earlier won praise for its.
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The government’s first and foremost goal is to save the lives of people for whom controversial decisions become necessary… Because I have been struck by this virus twice, very seriously lately, I and other victims like me can appreciate the inevitability and usefulness of this decision even better than others,’ he added.
Health Minister Naqi said that public assemblies, religious congregations, wedding ceremonies would not be tolerated and educational establishments, conferences, marriage halls, shops and shopping malls, private medical centres, barber shops and beauty salons would stay closed, providing prominent decision points.
However with obedience to the SOPs, grocery stores, food, vegetable milk, stationery and LPG cylinder shops, pharmacy, bakeries and tandoors, etc., will remain open from 7 am to 7 pm.
Hotels and restaurants will not be serving meals except as a takeaway on their property.
Parks and other leisure areas, playgrounds and gyms would remain closed and visitors would not be tolerated during the lockout, Mr. Naqi said, adding that public transport would be permitted to run but with strict obedience to the SOP, a breach of which would make strict legal recourse applicable to the transporter/driver concerned.
Similarly, in compliance with the SOPs, building activity will be permitted, he said.
He said funeral prayers with a maximum number of 50 members will be given in compliance with the SOPs.
He said the measures were made in compliance with the territory’s unique circumstances.