NCOC FINALLY GIVES ITS VERDICT ON SCHOOLS’ CLOSURE, PLACES BANS IN CITIES WITH HIGH COVID-19 RATES

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ISLAMABAD, JAN 19 /DNA/ – After a brief delay, the National Command and Operation Centre and SOPs for the education, restaurant, entertainment, and other sectors as Pakistan continues its battle against a fifth wave of the pandemic and struggles to contain the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In cities and districts with positivity higher than 10%, the classes for children under 12 years will continue on “staggered” days, while classes will be conducted daily for fully-vaccinated students above 12 years of age.

In the cities and districts which have a positivity ratio of up to 10%, classes will continue as usual, but with stringent COVID-19 protocols intact, as per NCOC’s guidelines.

With effect from February 1, at least one dose for students above 12 years will be mandatory and no exemption other than medical reasons will be entertained, the NCOC guidelines stated.

“Aggressive sentinel testing in educational institutions will be carried out for targeted closures in high disease prevalence education institutes,” the NCOC said.

Federating units in consultations with health authorities will set a number of cases or infection rate as the benchmark for closure of education institutes, the forum stated.

The decisions were taken during an NCOC session held today in Islamabad with Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar in the chair, a statement from the forum said.

The forum took a “detailed review” of the current trend of the pandemic in the country and after a “deliberate and consultative process”, it has agreed upon the following non-pharmaceutical interventions:

For cities/ districts with positivity above 10%:

Gatherings/Weddings:

  • Indoor gatherings of all types, including weddings, will be banned from January 24. 
  • Outdoor gatherings, including weddings, will be allowed with a cap of fully vaccinated 300 guests — applicable from Jan 24.

Dinning

  • There will be a complete ban on indoor dining. However, outdoor dining for fully vaccinated citizens and takeaway service will be allowed.

Gyms

  • Indoor Gyms at 50% capacity for fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed.

Cinemas

  • Cinemas will be allowed to open at 50% capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only.

Shrines

  • Shrines are allowed to open at 50% capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only.

Amusement Parks

  • Allowed to open at 50% capacity for fully vaccinated people only.

Sports

  • There would be a complete ban on contact sports like karate, boxing, martial arts, water polo, kabaddi and wrestling.

Education sector

  • Schools will be allowed to open with 50% attendance (staggered days) for students below the age of 12 years. For students (fully vaccinated) over 12 years, the NCOC has recommended 100% attendance.

Cities with less than 10%

Gatherings/weddings

  • Indoor gatherings are allowed with a maximum limit of 300 guests (fully vaccinated), while outdoor events can be held with a maximum limit of 500 guests.

Dining

  • Indoor and outdoor dining is permitted for fully vaccinated individuals only, while takeaways are allowed 24/7.

Gyms

  • Indoor gyms are open for fully vaccinated individuals only.

Shrines

  • Open for fully vaccinated individuals only.

Parks

  • Open for fully vaccinated individuals only.

Sports

  • All types of sports are allowed for vaccinated individuals.

Education

  • Children will continue to attend schools with strict SOPs, while those above 12-years of age must have to be fully vaccinated.

Restrictions imposed across Pakistan

Business timings

  • Businesses will continue without time restrictions

Public transport

  • Public buses will be allowed to operate with 70% of their seating capacity. Wearing masks will be mandatory throughout the journey, with a complete ban on serving meals/snacks. Restrictions will come into force from January 20.

Railways

  • Railways will operate with 80% occupancy level from January 24.

Office Routine

  • Offices will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity with normal working hours. However, work from home is encouraged.

Domestic Air travel /meals

  • There will be a complete ban on meal/beverages serving during the in-flight journey for domestic travel.

Education sector

  • With effect from February 2022 vaccination for students above 12 years will be mandatory (at least one dose). No exemption other than medical reasons will be entertained.
  • Aggressive sentinel testing in educational institutions will be carried out for targeted closures in high disease prevalence education institutes.
  • Federating units in consultations with health authorities will set a number/percentage for closure of education institutes.

Mask wearing

  • Compliance to compulsory mask wearing while incorporating innovative measures for enforcement. Strict adherence to SOPs in mosques and other places of worship be ensured by all federating units.

Extended lockdowns

  • Targeted lockdown with stringent enforcement protocols based on risk assessment will continue.