ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has rejected a proposal regarding imposing a complete lockdown in Punjab, reiterating it will disproportionately affect the poor.
PM Imran was addressing media in Lahore on Saturday, after chairing a meeting regarding the coronavirus measures taken in the province.
The government decided in the meeting against the imposition of a complete lockdown and agreed to ensure a strict implementation of the SOPs whereby masks will be mandatory for everyone and strict action will be taken if complaints of violations of safety protocols are received..
The premier said there was a prevailing impression that a complete lockdown is being imposed in Lahore and rejected any possibility of such a measure.
“Imposing a lockdown means shutting down the economy,” he said.
The prime minister said that a “smart lockdown” will be imposed instead, under which hotspots will be identified and closed off. PM Imran said that the Corona Relief Tiger Force will recruit more volunteers and assist the government in ensuring the rules are being followed.
The premier said that a “smart lockdown” is the only option for the country, and that if Pakistan were a rich country then imposing a lockdown would have been an option.
“New York’s mayor, the city which wealthiest in the world, is saying that it is going bankrupt,” said the prime minister, adding that if such a disastrous situation is prevailing in the US city, “then what could happen in Pakistan?”
He regretted that people were not taking the outbreak seriously.
“I am sorry to say that people are just not following SOPs. They think that there is no such thing as coronavirus and they don’t know anyone who contracted the disease. People think nothing will happen to them,” he said.
The prime minster warned that if the SOPs are not followed, the country will undergo a very tough phase.
“If we are permitting you to resume activities then it is your responsibility to follow the guidelines,” he said.
Declaring facemasks mandatory for everyone, the premier warned that strict action against those flouting the rules will be taken.
The prime minister said that the government is expecting July to be a difficult month.
“I will also visit the other provinces. From now onward, I will be personally monitoring the situation and checking for compliance on the SOPs from the PM Office,” said the premier, adding that he will also take input from the Tiger Force regarding the situation on the ground.