Punjab announces 14-day lockdown

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Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar on Monday announced a 14-day lockdown in the province of Punjab as part of an effort to contain the novel coronavirus. The lockdown will remain in place until April 6, the Punjab CM told media at a news conference. “The Punjab Cabinet Committee on coronavirus, which met here, decided a 14-day lockdown, to check spread of coronavirus,” he said, adding: “There will be a ban on pillion riding; however, family will be exempted.”

The CM maintained that section 144 restriction is already in place in Punjab. He said that parks and public places will remain closed during 14-day lockdown. To a query, the CM clarified that the government was not imposing a sweeping lockdown or a curfew.

However, he has appealed to the Punjab residents to cooperate with the provincial government as he announced a partial lockdown to contain the virus. “For the next 14 days,” Buzdar said, “security forces will ensure that the public abides by the government’s restrictions. Wasa, Wapda and Edhi will be allowed to operate.”

Answering another question, the CM said that the Punjab Cabinet is meeting on Tuesday in which the Punjab Finance Minister will present a plan to extend relief to the needy and daily wage earners. He said that supply chain will not be disturbed and vegetable and fruit markets and pharmaceutical companies will remain open.

Buzdar paid glowing tributes to doctors, nurses, paramedics, media and local government staff for serving at this difficult time. He further said that the committee has been constituted under the supervision of the Punjab Finance Minister for safeguarding the financial rights of daily wage employees in the private sector. This committee will submit it recommendations in the cabinet committee meeting to be held on March 24, he added.

Meanwhile, in light of the country’s current battle with coronavirus, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has called a video conference for consultation and requested all political parties to attend.

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