Punjab Allows Eid, Jumatul Wida Prayers

The inter-city and intra-city public transport and 26 industries across Punjab will reopen from Monday (today).

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat has directed officials concerned to prepare SOPs for the Jumatul Wida and Eid-ul-Fitr congregational prayers in the province.

The directions came during a meeting chaired by Raja Basharat to review the situation emerging in the province due to the coronavirus. The meeting was also attended by Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal, Chief Secretary Jawad Rafiq and IG police.

The chief secretary informed the meeting that security should be provided during the Friday and Eid prayers, adding that violation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) would not be tolerated at any cost, reports Geo News.

The chief secretary further instructed officials to ensure that all SOPs were followed in the markets with the help of traders.

“In case of non-compliance of SOPs, the entire market should be sealed,” he said. He said the markets were only allowed to conduct business four days a week, whereas, they would remain close for the remaining three days.

Shopping malls across the Punjab will re-open from tomorrow (Monday) after the provincial government gave the go-ahead to resume operations.

Information Minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan, on Saturday, had said the overall situation across the province was satisfactory after the government allowed people to go on about their daily businesses while observing the SOPs.

The minister had said that the decision to either ease or ramp up lockdown restrictions would be taken keeping in view the public’s response during the coronavirus pandemic.

The information minister had added that people could carry out daily activities while making sure they are following the SOPs put in place by the government.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Transporters Association Sunday announced that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) given to them by the provincial government were not practicable and feasible to run buses on roads.

The SOPs issued by the government cannot be implemented to operate the buses, said Punjab Transporters Association leaders while addressing a press conference in Lahore.

The office-bearers of the transporters association said buses could not be operated by carrying 50 percent passengers as per SOPs, as it would bring them huge losses.

They said the government was not providing the SOPs in the written form. They demanded cut in toll tax and suspension of token tax for one year.

They said the government had allowed the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to increase fares but on the other hand, the transporters were asked to cut the fares by 20 percent ahead of Eidul Fitr.

“We had done that but after that we were asked to accommodate one passenger on two seats. This is not acceptable to us, as we cannot bear this huge loss,” they said.

Asmatullah Niazi, Chairman Public Transport Association, said buses would not be operated on Monday (today) until the government issued new SOPs. “We are in contact with all transport organisations. No bus will be run/come on road,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention that on Friday, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had given go-ahead for resumption of public transport service across the province, which had been suspended since the lockdown was imposed.

Buzdar had directed the relevant authorities to formulate SOPs for the purpose so that the service could be resumed safely amid the coronavirus pandemic. He said the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the virus were being eased to provide relief to the citizens and people attached with the transport sector.

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