Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Saturday appreciated the Sindh government’s move to loosen coronavirus restrictions but maintained they were not enough. “The decisions made yesterday, especially those pertaining to industries and transport, need to be reviewed. We put forth our point of view yesterday, as well as today, based on which a partial amendment has been announced, which is a welcome sign. But further amendments are needed,” he wrote. The minister was referring to the Sindh government’s announcement of a nine-day lockdown after COVID-19 cases surged in the province, which later saw amendments made to the initial order to facilitate people. Umar said Pakistan’s strategy — of smart lockdowns which protect both people’s health and employment was “praised across the world”. “Such decisions were made after minutely reviewing ground realities,” he said. “These decisions are taken via a platform where there is a presence of all federal, civil, military, and provincial institutions,” the federal minister said. The NCOC chief said after a year’s performance, there should be no doubt that the forum operates “with no political bias” and takes decisions that are in the best interest of the nation. The federal minister reminded everyone that the NCOC makes decisions after consultations with provinces it is due to this that the country was able to beat three COVID-19 waves. “If every province would have relied on its own resources and made decisions without consultations, then this could not have been possible,” he said, indicating that without teamwork, it is impossible to beat COVID-19. The federal minister hoped the Sindh government would further consult NCOC on its decisions in a meeting tomorrow, following which a strategy that could protect both the citizens’ health and their jobs would emerge. NCOC on restrictions Later, the NCOC, in a statement, noted that the Sindh government had imposed several restrictions from July 31 to August 8, during which exempted sectors should operate in line with the SOPs. The NCOC said flight operations would continue in line with the previously issued SOPS; railways would operate at 70% capacity; employees working at public offices will be reduced to a minimum, while the Pakistan Stock Exchange and other services related to it would operate according to routine. Sindh amends lockdown order The Sindh government had earlier in the day announced it has amended certain decisions made part of the lockdown orders. The revised decisions for the lockdown period are given below: Milk shops, bakeries According to the amended order, the restriction of closing time for selected essential services from 6pm to 6am, shall no longer be applicable to dairy, milk shops, bakery shops and carriage vehicles for dairy products and milk. Home delivery Similarly, home delivery from restaurants as well as under e-commerce, shall be exempted from restrictions in timings, provided that the entire staff and those commuting through carriage vehicles/delivery vehicles shall be fully vaccinated and carrying vaccination cards for inspection by the law enforcement personnel. Pillion riding Restriction on pillion riding has been waived off. Industries other than export sector Industrial establishments/premises other than export oriented industry and related with the manufacture/production of essential services may also be made functional. This is subject to the fact that the owner, CEO, officer in charge, produce evidence to the concerned deputy commissioner that the entire staff and management have been fully vaccinated (with the exception of people with a legitimate medical excuse). The owners will be required to obtain permission from the deputy commissioner for the operation of the concerned industrial unit. Fertiliser, pesticide shops, warehouses Fertiliser, pesticide shops and warehouses or godowns are also exempt from restrictions provided that the entire staff is fully vaccinated and such a certificate is displayed at a clearly visible spot by the owner or manager. Small public transport vehicles Small vehicle used to transport the public, such as taxis, rickshaws, Qingqi are allowed to operate within city limits. These vehicles will only be allowed to carry passengers more than their prescribed capacity. Large public transport vehicles Large public transport vehicles such as buses, mini buses and wagons may also operate within city limits, but for transportation exclusively to and from vaccination centres. The owner or manager shall obtain a temporary revised route permit to that effect from the concerned authorities of Transport and Mass Transit Department, Government of Sindh who shall issue such route permit in consultation with the concerned authorities of Health Department, Government of Sindh. Moreover, these public transport vehicles shall not carry passengers more than 50% of their prescribed capacity. The entire staff of such vehicles is also required to be fully vaccinated and carry vaccination cards with them. Private vehicles may carry more than two persons The restriction of not carrying more than two persons in private vehicles is waived off. However, the number of passengers in the said vehicles is restricted to the prescribed capacity of the vehicle concerned.