July 30, 2020

By Haider Kaleem


LAHORE

The sudden ‘smart lockdown’ imposed by the Government of Punjab in the province till August 5, in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus during Eidul Azha, has ended up in making traders furious.

According to the official notification issued on Monday by the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, all the educational and training institutes, marriage halls, business centres, expo halls, restaurants, theme/amusement parks, play areas and arcades, beauty parlours and spas, cinemas and theatres, all retail shops, markets, shopping malls and plazas were to be shut down remain closed except for the pharmacies postal services, petrol pumps and takeaway/home delivery for restaurants will be allowed to operate for 24 hours.

But shopkeepers did not know until Monday that the lockdown would begin that very night. And while the grocery stores, bakeries, corner shops, fruit and vegetable shops, meat and milk shops would all be allowed to operate from 6 am to 12 am while the inter-city and inter-district public transport will be allowed to operate round-the-clock.

Many traders in Punjab had rejected the lockdown and announced that they will not follow it because they have already borne severe losses in the business during the previous phase of the lockdown without any support or assistance from the government.

As a result, traders in various cities of Punjab decided to resist the police and other officials from the administration coming to the markets in order to impose the lockdown. They also raised slogans against the government and publicly announced that they will not follow the lockdown during Eid.

Rawalpindi

Traders in Rawalpindi did not follow the 9-day lockdown on July 29 despite warnings from the district administration but an agreement was reached between the traders and the police on the lockdown. However, the traders decided to stay on strike against the Punjab Government’s orders.
Talking to Voicepk.net, A trader from Rawalpindi, Amjad Baloch condemned the imposing of lockdown in Punjab without any discussion with traders of the province.

“We request the prime minister to take notice of the situation where KP, Sindh, Balochistan, AJK, GB and Islamabad are fully operational but the Punjab government has decided to impose a lockdown again”, said Baloch.
He further stated that due to this ill-planned strategy, all the citizens flooded to the markets to shop for Eid which technically ruined the purpose of the lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

While demanding an apology from CM Punjab Usman Buzdar and asking to end the lockdown, the trader also made an appeal to the PM to let the elected members of the parliament from PTI to take charge of the decision making instead of the unelected advisors.

“It is a weird logic that 50 people can travel in a bus together but 3 cannot stand in a shop, if they had consulted us we could have told them that the actual inflow if people in markets increases during the previous not on this one hence I request that young elected and educated member of PTI to be made the CM of the province with around 62% population of Pakistan
because CM Buzdar does not seem to be fit for the job”, added Baloch.

Sargodha

Faisalabad

Kotwali Police station of Faisalabad arrested at least 5 shopkeepers and booked dozens of others under sections 147, 149, 186, 188, 290, 291, 353 and 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 5/6 of Sound System Regulation Act of 2015 and section 17-5 of Punjab Infection Control Ordinance of 2002.

The announcement of the current smart lockdown in Punjab when zero deaths and the recorded number of cases remained as low as 500 in the province during the week. While no such lockdown has been officially imposed in any other province of the country.

The government is yet to provide the reasoning behind why only Punjab took this decision without planning or consulting with the stakeholders while the no other province or administered area has taken any such decisions to fight the pandemic.

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