Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday announced partial lifting of countrywide lockdown from Saturday to allow economic activity with strict adherence to precautionary measures by the people.

“We have decided to partially open the lockdown on Saturday just to facilitate the daily wagers and small businesses. We have to open the lockdown with great prudence. The success of this phase is linked with public cooperation and discipline,” the prime minister said in his televised briefing following the meeting of National Coordination Committee (NCC) on COVID-19 chaired by him.

The meeting was attended by ministers for foreign affairs, economic affairs, information and broadcasting, federal education, aviation, industries and railway, advisors to the PM on finance and commerce, special assistants to the PM on health, information, overseas Pakistanis and social safety, and the National Disaster Management Authority chairman. The provincial chief ministers also joined the high level meeting through video link.

Among the major decisions made by the committee included reopening of small markets in localities and rural areas, allowing businesses to open after Sehri till 17:00 hours, opening of selective OPDs (outdoor patient departments) at hospitals and closure of educational institutions till July 15, 2020.

Besides the prime minister, the cabinet members briefed the media about the decisions made in the meeting concerning their respective sectors.

The prime minister said the state’s biggest responsibility was to protect the poor people particularly in the prevailing tough situation. Even, the New York had decided to open up the construction industry despite having faced thousands of deaths due to COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

He, however, repeatedly advised the people to take all precautions at their workplaces and elsewhere to ensure their own protection and avert any sudden spike in the coronavirus cases.

“We can overcome it only as a nation. We will not ask the police to enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs) by force and arrest the violators. I ask the Corona Tiger Force to make the people understand that this is in their own benefit… If it spikes suddenly, we will have to close down again which will ultimately make the poor suffer,” the prime minister remarked.