It is unfortunate that the government’s policy of ease in restrictions appears to have been misconstrued by people as complete removal of lockdown. While the cabinet has only allowed a few, specific industries to reopen in order to prevent an economic collapse, several indicators suggest that many people have taken it as a green signal to return to their pre-pandemic routines. The traffic has returned to the streets, businesses not included by the cabinet are reopening, as traders and other groups mount pressure on lawmakers and threaten to disregard their decisions. Emboldened by the actions of clerics, they feel that they too can get away with flouting government policy.

This also raises questions over how sincerely can they be expected to follow SOPs if and when restrictions are legally lifted. For these people to demand that business be allowed to go on as usual is either a result of a complete misreading of the situation on ground and the scale of the danger confronting the country or the unfounded assumption that they are somehow immune to the threat. The facts do not support their optimism. Pakistan now has over 10,000 cases, with the biggest surge in a single day coming this week after ease in restrictions. If this disregard for government’s instructions as well as pleas from medical experts continues, it is inevitable that Pakistan will find itself under complete lockdown yet again due to widespread transmission.

The government must ensure that it does not send any mixed signals. It should be unequivocal in communicating to the public that the danger has not subsided; that no, the virus does not only affect the old, that the summer heat does not kill it and it is certainly not just another flu hyped up by the evil nexus of big media and big government. As far as the COVID-19 pandemic goes, we are all in the same boat. Let’s not sink it.