LAHORE                   -                 Making an exception to the ban on inter-city transport, the Punjab government has allowed transportation of agricultural implements and machinery to facilitate the farmers in the wake wheat harvesting starting in the second week of April.

The government has also decided that milk shops will remain open by 8 pm unlike the grocery stores that will close down by 5 pm in the evening.

These decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Secretary Maj (R) Azam Suleman here on Tuesday.

“It is responsibility of administration to provide relief to the farmers during harvesting of wheat crop and for this purpose transportation of agricultural equipment and machinery has been exempted from the restrictions imposed under section 144 to contain spread of coronavirus in the province”, the chief secretary observed while chairing the meeting held to review the situation of coronavirus in the province.

The meeting was attended by Inspector General of Police Shoaib Dastgir, Commissioner Lahore Saif Anjum and officers concerned.The Chief Secretary said that in view of wheat harvest season, movement of equipment and machinery related to agriculture sector had been permitted but the labour to be engaged for harvesting would have to follow the laid down SOPs. Similarly, transportation of cement and soda ash had also been allowed to proceed with the work in construction sector, he added.

The Chief Secretary constituted committees at district level to ensure availability of personal protection equipment (PPEs) for doctors, paramedics and other staff treating corona patients. The committee will comprise representative of deputy commissioner, army, medical superintendent (MS) of hospital and chief executive officer (CEO) of district health authority. It would monitor inventory and consumption of PPEs on daily basis.

The Chief Secretary ordered that disinfection cabins were to be prepared within two days and process of cleaning and disinfecting barracks of jails to be completed at early as possible. He asked the officers to enforce the government’s orders regarding opening of shops from 9am to 5pm only.

He directed that stern action be taken against profiteers and grocery and other big stores involved in fleecing people be sealed after warning. The IG Punjab told the meeting that process of releasing persons violated section 144 had started as per government’s instructions but those arrested on charges of hoarding or other crimes would not be released.