The government has announced a new strategy under which cities with low vaccination will face “more restrictions”, said National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar.
Flanked by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, the NCOC head said that the government had decided to vaccinate people in those areas where coronavirus positivity ratios were higher.
“Vaccination is the only way to battle the coronavirus,” Asad said.
“Getting the most people vaccinated is the fastest way to get rid of the problems of coronavirus otherwise, we will have to go for closures,” he added.
He said lockdowns and closures usually meant economic losses and business setbacks. He clarified that increased vaccination rates will not, however, mean that coronavirus will be totally eliminated across Pakistan.
“However, it ensures that people are able to spend their lives normally,” he said.
“Hence, keeping all this in mind, our NCOC meeting this morning decided that from October 1, our decision to impose more relaxation or restrictions in SOPs for cities and districts will be made on the basis of their respective vaccination rates,” he said.
SOPs RELAXED: Asad said that the NCOC had set a target to vaccinate 40 percent of the 15 and above age group in Pakistan’s 24 or 25 big cities. The cities who had achieved the targeted vaccination rate are Gilgit, Skardu, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Quetta and Peshawar.
“We are about to relax restrictions in these eight cities from October 1,” he announced.
“The rest of the cities and districts will have to implement on the same restrictions that are currently in place, till October 15,” he added.
He spoke about the relaxations that will be allowed to the above-mentioned eight cities, adding that indoor gatherings of up to 300 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 1,000 people will be allowed.
The NCOC chief said that the people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, in these eight cities, will also be able to watch movies in cinema houses from October 1.
Fully vaccinated persons can also visit shrines in the eight cities, he said, adding that however, the provincial government and district administration will keep a check on how the arrangements are made for people to visit these shrines and check whether they have been vaccinated or not.
“Restaurants can remain open throughout the week in these eight cities,” he said. “The same goes for wedding halls. They can remain open seven days a week.
Umar announced another relaxation for vaccinated individuals from October 1, not necessarily from these eight cities, adding that food during flights will be served to them.