Permits for various businesses were revised repeatedly amid efforts to curb viral infections
A fruit seller waits for a customer when he sells guava from a wheelbarrow in a closed market during the closure, after an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), in Lahore, Pakistan March 31, 2020. REUTERS / Mohsin Raza
LAHORE: Police officers and other government departments appear confused about enforcing the lock to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Confusion has resulted from the government’s often changing decisions about permitting and restricting various businesses and services. The government made several decisions after announcing the lockout on March 14, including the imposition of Article 144, but the order was repeatedly revised afterwards.
An order was issued by the Punjab government to close crowded places, which included educational institutions, madrassas, wedding halls, gymnasiums, snooker clubs, recreation areas, salons, roadside stalls, shopping centers and tea shops.
Car repair shops, gas stations, medical stores, restaurants, fast food stalls, butchers, dairy shops, takeaway, home delivery, fruit and vegetable markets are exempt from the ban.
Seven days later, the locking was made more stringent by enacting Section 144 after the number of corona virus cases increased.
The Punjab government is revising permits for home delivery and takeaway services and limiting restaurant time to 10 nights.
After two days, the government issued a new order to extend the vacation of educational institutions. In addition, all businesses are permitted to remain open from 8am to 8pm, except for drug stores and takeaway services.
However, a ban was imposed on the pillion. Cars are allowed to move with two people or two officers with a patient. The wedding hall was also asked to be closed and only five people were allowed to pray at the mosque at a time.
After the provincial cabinet meeting on March 31, the timing of all businesses except medical stores was changed from 8 am to 5 pm.
However, on April 1, another provincial cabinet meeting was held, which decided that all shopping centers, markets, government and private offices would be closed until April 14, and a total ban on traveling from one city to another and one province to another via public transportation enforced.
It was decided that all meetings including political, social and religious activities would be banned in public and non-governmental places, while medical stores, government offices, law enforcement agencies, important bank staff, call centers with key staff, defense production, joint pharmaceutical companies with all equipment factories used in coronavirus prevention, agricultural machinery workshops, irrigation department staff and food manufacturing plants exempt from the ban.
Automatic and agricultural machine shops, grocery stores, fruit and vegetable vendors, fish, meat, bakeries, dairy shops, tandoor shops and optical products stores will open from 8 am to 5 pm. Dairy shops are permitted to remain open from 9 am to 8 pm.
On the night of April 1, CCPO Zulfiqar Hamid visited various areas in northern Lahore and reviewed police performance during the lockdown.
SHO Misri Shah was suspended for not applying the lock effectively. SHO Mughalpura and SHO and DSP Shalimar were called in because of their poor performance.
Orders have been issued to effectively enforce the lock according to government orders. One SHO said officials themselves were confused about government policies, because of which no clear direction could be issued at the police station level.
Commenting on the situation, former CCPO Chaudhry Shafiq said, “The government must issue a clear and separate policy from medical stores, only multinational company restaurants may remain open 24 hours a day with regular entrance services for takeaways and people getting food items in cars them, while home delivery from this restaurant must also be permitted with a deadline. “
On the other hand, Operation DIG Rai Rai Babar Saeed said Lahore police had stopped more than 123., 115 residents at the checkpoint, and “1,534 FIRs had been registered so far for violating Article 144”.
He highlighted that the owners of more than 104,331 motorbikes and other vehicles were questioned about the reasons for leaving. A warning was issued for 114,296 residents who traveled without a valid reason. “Surety bonds about leaving the house have been taken from 3,671 residents,” he said.
At least 60,472 motorbikes, 16,002 rickshaws, 2,666 taxis, 19,526 cars, and 5,665 large vehicles were stopped and the inhabitants interrogated, he added.
Saeed further said that residents must understand the seriousness of the situation and must not leave their homes except in an emergency.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2020.
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