ISLAMABAD   -   The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Friday issued guidelines for marriage halls to hold wedding ceremonies amid strict compliance of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and safety guidelines.

The NCOC meeting was briefed that marriage halls were reopened from 15 September in view of overall positive results of government’s smart lockdown policy about COVID-19. The Forum was told that being a very high risk sector, it has the potential to increase positivity at National level, if COVID-19 SOPs were not followed.

Therefore, in order to reduce chance of disease spread from this high risk sector, in depth deliberations were done at NCOC and guidelines had been formulated and shared with federating units for strict implementation in marriage halls.

NCOC advised the organisers of marriage halls to ensure 300 individuals for indoor gatherings and 500 individuals for outdoor gatherings. It also noted that event duration should not exceed from two hours with culmination by 2200 hours (10pm).

Moreover, in view of SOPs violations, marriage hall would be closed for a specified time alongside imposition of heavy fine. In order to afford sufficient time for alternate venue, closure on account of SOPs violations to take place after two weeks from date of closure ordered by Civil Administration.

“Marriage hall owner will be bound to reimburse complete amount, received on account of advance booking to families which reserved the subject marriage hall.” The Forum was told that due to prevalence of COVID-19, large scale public gatherings were banned in most of the countries around the world.

However, if some public gatherings were unavoidable then these must be organised with strict compliance of SOPs; for which currently deliberations were underway to be subsequently decided at NCC.

Meanwhile, Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan collectively reported 163 coronavirus cases and one death during the past 24 hours. According to the breakdown of the cases, Islamabad reported 113 cases, 1 death; AJK 43 cases and GB 7 cases.

At least 20 more cases emerged in Balochistan during the last 24 hours, raising the tally to 15,480.

No death was reported in the province. So far 146 people died due to Covid-19. Gilgit-Baltistan reported nine fresh coronavirus cases during the past 24 hours, taking the tally to 3,893. One more patient recovered from the deadly disease as the total reached 3,531. No death was reported in the region.

So far 89 people have succumbed to the disease in the region.

Also, 44 fresh cases took the KP tally to 38,219. No death was reported in the province during the past 24 hours. So far 1,263 patients have succumbed to the disease. Punjab reported 58 coronavirus cases and one death during the last 24 hours. The provincial tally has risen to 100,330 while the death toll is 2,248. With 661 fresh Covid-19 cases across the country, the national tally has risen to 302,708 while the recovery rate is 95.3 percent.