ISLAMABAD              -         A large number of people thronged tourists spots of the federal capital for picnic on weekend, defying the SOPs devised by the local administration to stem the coronavirus spread.

Brushing off the ‘stay at home’ slogan promoted across the world to do away with the global pandemic, hundreds of the residents of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi turned to picnic spots on cars, motorbikes and cabs, forcing traffic wardens to intervene.  Shahdara and Margalla Hills were the prime targets of the visitors where a huge rush was witnessed on Saturday and Sunday.

“Shahdara stream is a major source of attraction for tourists in hot summer and is witnessing a huge rush on this weekend. It seems local authorities are not properly activated to enforce lockdown,” Vice Chairman Union Council Malpur Raja Nadeem, expressed his concern over the situation.

He said the town’s residents being at the isolated location were feeling protected but this public mobility may expose the area to an outbreak of the pandemic.

 “Majority of the visitors are without masks and a significant number of youngsters were taking bath in the stream water and there was no adherence to the guidelines against virus, putting their own and others’ lives at risk,” he regretted.  A local, Abdul Qudoos, also complained about the traffic mess at Shahdara road saying, “Usually it takes 20 to 30 minutes to reach my home in Shahdara town but today it took me almost one hour to reach.” Abdul Jabbar, a visitor who has come with his family at Margalla Hills, said people got frustrated after staying at home for the last two or three months.

“My children who used to visit most often in normalcy insisted me to go for outing and we are trying to keep a fair distance to ensure our safety,” he tried to justify his move when asked why he has exposed his family to the pandemic.

 “Our schools are closed for the last two months so we need some recreation so I insisted my father to visit the place for a change,” Jabbar’s 10-year-old son told, looking a bit excited and feared as well, said.  Commenting on the situation, Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat told APP that the administration had not opened any picnic spot of the federal capital. All-out efforts were being made to ensure implementation on the SoPs to curb the coronavirus spread.   “The administration is monitoring the public mobility and teams would be dispatched at the earliest to restrict public gatherings at tourist attraction sites,” the deputy commissioner assured after indication of the rush at the tourist resorts, especially Shahdara. He said people must take the virus seriously as some 600 positive cases of coronavirus were being reported in Islamabad every day.