Sindh government on Tuesday allowed shopping malls in the province to reopen a day after the Supreme Court ordered the authorities to seek permission from the health ministry in this regard and allow them to operate.
A five-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed had directed that the provincial governments ensure the reopening on Saturday and Sunday of shops and business activities which were previously closed during the complete lockdown.
“We don’t find any justified reason for closing the shops on the weekend,” the court had noted in its order, adding that it is in the convenience of human beings that the two days are named as such; there is otherwise no distinction between other days and Saturday and Sunday.
The SC’s directives were received with concern by the Sindh government due to a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases since the lockdown was eased in the country. As of today, 46,996 are infected with the virus with the death toll nearing 1,000.
Today, Sindh Home Department issued a notification allowing shopping malls to open, subject to the condition of strictly adhering to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued to curb the spread of the virus.
“The conditions and provisions including opening timings (8am to 5pm) will remain the same,” the notification read.
However, food courts, beauty parlours/beauty salons and entertainment/play areas in the malls will remain closed.
The provincial government also suspended the order declaring Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as “safe days” on the instructions of the apex court.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Ali Shallwani issued the SOPs outlined below, to be followed by the management of shopping malls in the city.
No customer shall be allowed to enter the shopping malls without the face mask.
Availability of hand sanitizes for customers shall be ensured at the entry points of shopping malls.
No customer shall be allowed to enter the shopping malls without being scanned with thermal guns.
Persons with the flu-like symptoms, high temperature, and dry cough shall not be allowed to enter in the shopping malls.
The management of shopping malls shall reduce 1/3rd of footfall capacity in their shopping malls.
The footfall shall be digitalized to monitor the social distancing of at least 03 feet amongst the customers.
The management shall use signage throughout the premise to ensure social distancing for customers and employees.
Display instructions and awareness posters with pictorial images for workers, staff and customers at prominent places.
Persons of over 55 years and children below 12 years age shall not be allowed to enter shopping malls.
Entry & Exit points in shopping malls shall be prominently marked, displayed and strictly monitored.
The shopping malls shall be frequently cleaned with disinfectant.
Traders demand increase in time
All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Atiq Mir thanked Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed for intervening into the matter.
“Business has resumed at 20,000 shops in 40 shopping malls of the metropolis,” Mir said, adding “[in gratitude] children of Karachi’s traders are praying for the CJP.”
He also requested the chief justice to allow the opening of shops till 12am until Chand Raat due to the hot weather and Eid.