KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Mu­rad Ali Shah, in his meeting with small traders associations, announced to open shops and markets, except plaza and shop­ping malls, from Monday morn­ing under a Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

“Now, the business activities would operate from 6am to 4 pm and there will be grace period of an hour to close the shops and return to their home – because the lockdown will start from 5 pm sharp,” he said.

He expressed these views while addressing the smalls traders who met him here at Auditorium of Sindh Assembly Building, said a spokesperson to the CM Sindh on Sunday.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, Dr Azra Pe­chuho, Saeed Ghani, Imtiaz Shai­kh, Nasir Shah, Ikram Dharejo, Advisor Law Murtaza Wahab, Mayor Karachi Wasim Akhtar, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IG Sindh Mushtaq Maher, Home Secretary Usman Chachar, Adl IG Karachi Ghulam Nabi Memon, Qasim Siraj Teli, and leaders of various organizations of the traders.

The Chief Minister announced that community markets, retail outlets, stand-alone/neighbour­hood shops, excluding shops situated in Malls and Plazas) would resume their business ac­tivities from 6 am to 4pm, from Monday to Thursday.

He said that he was well aware that the small traders were pass­ing through a very serious situa­tion because their businesses had been closed down due to coronavirus epidemic.

“I know your [traders] posi­tion, but I had one option either to save life of our people or al­low the business activities thriv­ing at the cost of our lives,” he said and added he chose to save life of the people at the cost of business activities. He said that the lockdown had produced good results which was also ac­knowledged by the traders com­munity.

Syed Murad Ali Shah said that it was not his unilateral decision to impose lockdown but the de­cision was taken with collective wisdom.

“I am grateful to the federal government that they accepted his request and announced opening of business activities, except shopping Malls, Plazas, hotels and restaurants,” from Fajir 6 am to 5 pm, he said.

The Chief Minister said that he was grateful to the trader’s community who strengthened his government hands in imple­menting the lockdown.

“You have kept your business activities closed for two months  

 therefore you have been affect­ed badly but we have to find out new way of life of living,” he said. Murad Shah said that construc­tion industries and community markets/ retail outlets, shops in rural areas, neighbourhood shops located in residential lo­calities would be operated from 6 am to 4pm.

He added that Saturday and Sunday would be observed as a `safe days’ with all sectors and retail closed other than essen­tial sectors or those with a con­tinuous process.

The Chief Minister said that the sectors that would con­tinue to remain closed were all industries and business not cleared for opening till May 9, shopping malls, plazas, educa­tional institutions, offices that were not cleared for opening till May 9, restaurants, hotels, mar­quee, marriage halls, cinemas and places of large gatherings, public processions, gatherings, congregations of all nature and organized sports events and concerts.

Barber shops, beauty parlors, hair cutting salons/Spas, game centers, video games, Dabbu Carrum, pools, game shops, gyms, Cafe, sit-in eatery, social clubs and parks would also re­main closed.

The traders appreciated the Chief Minister with claps and cheers. The Chief Minister told the small traders that “we are working a plan to steer the busi­ness community out of the cri­sis.”

The Sindh Home Secretary read out the SOP in the meeting so that every trader must under­stand under which discipline he had to work.

Leader of KCCI, Qasim Siraj Teli addressing the traders said that they have heard the SOPs as announced by the Home Secre­tary Usman Chacahr. He added that if any of the traders had ob­jection on any clause of the SOPs he must point it out right here and right now.

“Once the SOPs are imple­mented, everyone will be bound to abide by it, and in case of violation of the SOPs by any trader, the administra­tion will be authorized to take action accordingly and the KCCI will not support the delin­quent,” he said.

He said that we had to learn how to live with the virus until and unless its vaccine was in­vented, therefore “we must ap­preciate the Chief Minister for the actions he had taken to save the lives of the people in the province,” he said.

Had he not imposed lockdown the situation would have been different here, he said and the traders present in the audito­rium clapped to appreciate the Chief Minister and his team.