ISLAMABAD          -              The federal capital moves towards partial lockdown as the federal government has directed all ministries and departments to close all of their public dealing offices besides deciding to shut down some specific businesses as part of its measures to mitigate the adverse effects of COVID-19.

The federal government has already closed all public dealing related government and semi-government offices under its control.

Through an office memorandum, the Ministry of Interior had directed all divisions, ministries, and their attached departments for “closure of all public service delivery offices for public dealing” as precautionary and preventive measures against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and to mitigate its adverse effects.

The Ministry of Interior has said that the government has approved social distancing of the public sector employees initially for a period of 15 days with an immediate effect.

The memorandum authorises secretary, additional secretary (in-charge) of all ministries and divisions and heads of attached departments and organisations to prepare a strategy in this regard and implement the same within their respective domain.

The memorandum further says that measures should be taken for identification of staff for important tasks and ensuring their presence in office. It says that employees over 50 years of age may be allowed to work from home.

Employees with illness (flu, fever, etc.) or facing health challenges may also work from home. It directs for closure of all day care centres in public offices and allowing the female staff, those mothers who keep their children in these centres, to work from home.

A separate letter written by the Ministry of Interior, the other day, to Chairman NADRA and Director General of Directorate General, Immigration and Passports (IMPASS) says that the government has decided closure of National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) and passport offices for public dealing initially for a period of 15 days with an immediate effect.

The ministry said that the decision has been taken as “precautionary and preventive measure against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and to mitigate its adverse effects.”

However, necessary steps should be taken to extend validity period of Computerised National Identity Cards, National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis, and passports that may expire during the said period, the letter adds.

Another letter written by the ministry to Chief Commissioner Islamabad says that it has been decided to close offices of Excise and Taxation Department, property businesses, beauty parlours and saloons in the jurisdiction of capital territory.

The letter further says that restaurants and shopping malls must be closed latest by 10pm. However, this restriction will not apply to restaurants and food outlets for food delivery and takeaways.