Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has approved a five-day holiday on account of Eidul Azha. According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, the premier approved Eidul Azha holidays from July 8 to 12. The Cabinet Division was now expected to notify the holidays in a separate notification. On June 29, the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee announced that the Zilhaj moon had not been sighted in Pakistan, adding that Eidul Azha in Pakistan will be observed on July 10 (Sunday). Chairman Maulana Syed Abdul Khabir Azad had announced the decision following a meeting of the committee held in Karachi after the Maghrib prayers to sight the crescent moon. Addressing a press conference, Azad had said no testimony of the moon sighting was received from any part of the country. The first day of Zilhaj would fall on July 1 (Friday), he had added. “May God grant the blessings of the upcoming days to the entire Islamic world and this beloved country of mine,” he had said. The Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee chairman Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad had on June 29 announced the commencement of the month of Zilhaj from July 1, with Eid falling on July 10. Azad had stressed that a message of unity should be taken forward. The chairman then held prayers for peace and stability in the country. On June 29, Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel noted that Covid cases in Pakistan had been rising and called on the public to be cautious during the Eid holidays. For this purpose, the government is proposing three SOPs that need to be “followed religiously”, he said. “We have made masks mandatory in all closed gatherings, airlines, railways and public transport. Social distancing and proper sanitization are also very important.” Patel cautioned that Eidul Azha and Muharram were coming up during which large public gatherings were typically held. “We are mulling over strategies for these occasions as well, as the threat of coronavirus cases rising persists during these months,” he said. He added that the government had also decided to increase mass testing across the country on the orders of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for which instructions had been sent to the health secretaries of all four provinces.