Schools can be reopened with districts having less than 5% positivity rate, NCOC

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ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday allowed the reopening of schools in districts where the COVID-19 positivity ratio is less than 5%. The development came after NCOC chief Asad Umar presided over a meeting, with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, provincial chief secretaries and other members in attendance via video link. A detailed review of the disease’s prevalence in the country was taken, a statement from the NCOC said. Following the meeting, important decisions regarding restrictions were taken after extensive deliberations. Gadani and Misri Shah industries would be allowed to reopen starting May 20. Inter-provincial public transport will resume May 22, but will remain closed for two days — Saturday and Sunday. Outdoor restaurants – open daily till 11:59pm and takeaways will be allowed 24/7. Tourism sector allowed to operate under strict COVID-19 protocols. Separate instructions on protocols will be issued to all federating units. Outdoor marriage ceremonies with an upper limit of 150 individuals can start from June 1. Educational institutions other than those opened from May 24. Shrines, cinemas, indoor dining, indoor gyms, amusement parks, contact sports, festivals, cultural and other events, and indoor/outdoor gatherings will remain banned till further notice. The forum decided that wearing masks will remain compulsory, but “innovative measures for enforcement” will be taken. “Implementation of broader lockdowns with stringent enforcement to be made based on risk assessment,” the statement added. The current inbound and land border policy will stay intact till further orders. “Critical monitoring of disease prevalence and critical health care system is being carried out on daily basis, and necessary steps will be taken accordingly, whenever deemed appropriate to control the disease spread,” the statement said. Exception provided includes walking/jogging tracks in parks will remain open with strict adherence to COVID-19 standard operating procedures. The NCOC decided all SSC and HSSC exams will be held after June 20, while professional and non-professional exams would take place on a case-to-case basis depending on recommendations from the Ministry of Education.

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