The federal government has on Thursday decided to shut all big markets across the country which violate standard operating procedures (SOPs) to counter the coronavirus pandemic.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill tweeted, “Under the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) decisions, several big markets across Pakistan will be closed today over violation of lockdown SOPs.

“Operation in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been initiated. We must follow SOPs in any case.”

Punjab Chief Secretary Jawad Rafique Malik briefed the NCOC and stressed that irresponsibility is causing deaths. The epidemic can be controlled only by following SOPs, he said.

“Big markets in Punjab will be shut in the light of the NCOC decisions. Industrial areas, markets and transport will be bound to follow rules and fines will be imposed over violations.”

Jawad Rafique Malik also chaired an emergency meeting at Camp Office in which it was decided to strictly implement SOPs concerning COVID-19. He and said no relaxation will be given to offenders from now onwards and instructed all police officers to remain on patrol.