ISLAMABAD - Keeping in view prevalence of Covid-19 and its potential to spread, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Tuesday suggested that rallies/ walks/ gatherings on the roads, streets and other ill-defined places should be avoided.

The directions are part of the SOPs issued by the NCOC to prevent spread of the virus. As per the SOPs, for the outdoor activity is concerned, organisers would be responsible for ensuring compliance of the SOPs, particularly masks, social distancing and provision of Covid safety kit. The SOPs said that a mask and a mini hand sanitiser should be provided to each participant of the rally. No public gatherings to be held in cities where positivity ratio is consistently higher and is within 2nd Slab (6-9%) or above as laid down in instructions.

Children and elderly should be discouraged to participate in the rallies. People with Covid or respiratory illness-related symptoms must not be allowed to attend such event. Individuals with chronic illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease etc would not be allowed to participate. No attendance would be allowed without mask with no handshake or hugging.

In case of indoor events, maximum participation be 500, duration be 3 hours, everyone should be seated 

The SOPs further said that no meals or light refreshment should be allowed in any type of gathering. Drinking water facilities should be dispersed at multiple locations to avoid crowding. Preferably water bottles be provided to the participants, otherwise disposable glasses to be used with anti-Covid awareness board/banners displayed at the venues by the organizers.

The issued guidelines relate to all types of public gatherings sans marriages and sports. The SOPs for sports-related gatherings and marriages would be issued separately, said the officials. The guidelines have been prepared with input from the provinces, according to the officials. The guidelines for public gatherings means where people are assembled on any given space; indoor or outdoor, for some purpose such as cultural events, religious gatherings, sports events, entertainment/cultural events, parties, political gatherings or other similar events. These include entertainment, cultural gatherings, public gatherings of unions / associations or any such group, religious gatherings, political gatherings, family gatherings, civil society group gatherings. 

According to the officials, public gatherings should be discouraged in view of their potential to become super spreaders – preferably no public gathering be held except those related to economic activity. If holding of public gatherings is unavoidable, then these should be held in well-defined venues which facilitate enforcement of the SOPs. In case of indoor events, maximum participation to be of 500 persons or 50 percent of capacity whichever is less. Duration of the event/activity should not exceed 3 hours. All persons would be seated – no standing participation. Chair-to-chair distance would be 3 feet minimum. In case of outdoor events, all persons would be seated and no standing participation. The chair-to-chair distance to be 3 feet minimum and duration of the event/activity should not exceed 3 hours.