LAHORE - The Punjab government has decided to enforce ‘smart lockdown’ on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha in the light of the federal government's directives to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Sources privy to a meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik on Sunday disclosed that the government was considering closing all shopping malls three days before Eid in order to prevent people from gathering at one place in large numbers.

The meeting was told that shopping activities in the markets before Eid-ul-Azha could cause the spread of COVID-19 as was experienced during Eid-ul-Fitr. It was therefore decided in the larger public interest to enforce smart lockdown on the eve of the upcoming religious festival.

  According to an official handout, the meeting reviewed the arrangements for the enforcement of the smart lockdown and implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in cattle markets.

Additional Chief Secretary Home Momin Agha, IG Police Shoaib Dastgir, Secretary Primary Health Capt (r) Muhammad Usman, Commissioner Lahore Division Danish Afzal and DIG Operations Lahore Ashfaq Ahmad Khan attended the meeting whereas Secretary Local Government Dr. Ahmed Javed Qazi, all divisional commissioners and RPOs participated through video link.

CS orders strict implementation of SOPs in cattle markets

The meeting decided to empower the deputy commissioners to extend the working hours of cattle markets in the districts as and when required. The Secretary Local Government informed the meeting that apart from temporary sale points, at present there were 300 cattle markets in the province. He said that the officers of district administration and the local government department were regularly monitoring these markets.

Addressing the meeting, the Chief Secretary said that the protection of human lives was of utmost importance to the government and all possible steps, including strict implementation of SOPs in cattle markets, would be taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. He said that the smart lockdown in Lahore and other affected cities of the province had yielded positive results and the number of new coronavirus cases continued to tail off.

The Chief Secretary asked all the divisional commissioners to strictly enforce SOPs including wearing masks and ban on entry of elderly persons and children in the cattle markets. He directed that officials of the health department, local government and livestock must be deployed in the cattle markets and joint teams of administration and law enforcement agencies should be formed for carrying out inspections.

He ordered that only a specific number of people should be allowed to enter the cattle markets as per the capacity to ensure social distancing. Chief Secretary directed concerned authorities to set up special counters at the entry points for screening.

The Chief Secretary also issued instructions to continue anti-dengue activities and prepare a solid waste management plan during Eid. IG Punjab Shoaib Dastgir directed RPOs to ensure foolproof security, social distancing and other precautionary measures for Eid prayer congregations.