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Pakistan bans indoor marriages in bid to curb coronavirus spread

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The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) has imposed a ban on indoor weddings in Pakistan in its bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

According to a notification issued on Friday, major cities with “high positivity and higher disease spread potential”, have been asked to enforce the ban.

“Only outdoor marriages allowed with upper limit of 1,000 persons,” read the NCOC notification.

The rule pertains to Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gilgit, Muzzafarabad, Mirpur, Peshawar, Quetta, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, and Abbottabad.

The decision will go into effect from November 20, 2020.

Furthermore, beginning tomorrow (November 7), the NCOC has directed the implementation of a “Gilgit-Baltistan model” whereby face masks must be made compulsory in the aforementioned cities.

In GB, failure to do so results in a penalty of Rs100 and three masks issued on the spot. Authorities have been advised to issue similar penalties in these locations.

Additionally, public and private offices have been told to implement a 50% “work from home” policy.

In areas identified as hotspots, relatively broader smart lockdowns have also been recommended.

Existing wedding hall restrictions

Last month, NCOC said that it has observed wedding halls and indoor restaurants to be “high contributors” to the spread of the contagious disease.

Following the observation, on October 9, the body issued new guidelines for wedding halls, saying that it is officially restricting the number of guests and limiting functions till 10pm.

For indoor events, a maximum of 300 guests has been allowed and for outdoor events, a maximum of 500 guests, with the gathering to only last 2 hours.

Shut down timings

The NCOC has already warned business owners to shut down before or by 10pm, in view of the rising positivity ratio in major cities of Pakistan.

The decision pertains to:

– Restaurants

– Wedding halls

– Commercial markets

– Shopping malls

Recreational spots, such as amusement and public parks, have been asked to shut down by 6pm.

Essential services such as medical stores, clinics and hospitals will remain open.

Uptick in cases

Pakistan has seen a steady rise in cases in the last five days, with more than 1,000 new infections each day.

The country recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases since July 24 in the last 24 hours when 1,376 cases were reported by the national dashboard. On July 24, a high of 1,487 was reported, following which a steady decline in cases had been witnessed.

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