As Sindh reported 247 new coronavirus cases during the past 24 hours, taking the tally to 265,679, the provincial government imposed new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. According to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, five more patients succumbed to the virus as the death toll reached 4,502. As many as 224 patients recovered overnight, taking the total to 256,276. The Sindh government thus banned all marriage functions — both indoors and outdoors — with effect from April 6, and introduced a new set of coronavirus restrictions till April 11. A notification from the Home Department announced that broader lockdowns will be imposed in areas with 8 per cent coronavirus positivity ratios. The provincial government announced that indoor dining in restaurants will not be allowed while outdoor dining will only be permitted till 10 pm. Takeaway and home delivery options will be available for restaurants. The notification said markets, shopping malls and marriage halls will operate from from 6 am to 8 pm for business and commercial activities “with two safe days observance per week as applicable to that area concerned (except essential services i.e. medical stores, clinics, hospitals as well as petrol pumps, bakeries, milk shops and restaurants, etc.)”. People will not be allowed to partake in any social or political gathering or sports events and religious festivals, as well as concerts, as per the notification. People in Sindh will be allowed to hold marriage functions outdoors only till April 5 limited to 300 guests. However, a complete ban will be imposed on wedding functions across the province from April 6 till April 11. Amusement Parks and walking/jogging tracks will remain open with strict adherence to Covid-19 SOPs, said the Home Department. It also called on the private and government sector to observe the work from home 50 per cent staff policy in all offices and courts. “Transport to operate at 50 per cent of capacity with strict SOPs compliance,” read the notification. Earlier in the day, CM Murad requested the federal government to ban inter-provincial transport for two weeks in a bid to control the spread of the coronavirus. In a conversation with reporters outside an accountability court in Islamabad where he had gone in connection with the fake accounts case, Murad said that this was the only way the spread of the disease could be curbed. “I am not saying there should be no inter-provincial transport for a year. Only a two-week break can break the transmission cycle,” he said. The chief minister was of the view that there was no concept of a “smart lockdown”. “Either there is a lockdown or no lockdown,” he argued. He said that Sindh had more ventilators than any other province, adding vaccine procurement plans were in the pipeline. He informed the media that the provincial government was contemplating purchasing a single-dose vaccine. “But first we will have to check the efficacy of this vaccine,” he said. When a reporter asked if there was pressure on him to resign because of his claimed involvement in the case, Shah said that why should he resign when the case itself was fabricated. “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders who have resigned from their posts must have done something wrong,” he insisted, and added: “Even I am not aware what charges have been included in the reference filed against me.” The chief minister said that it was unfortunate that the reference pertained to a plant that was generating 100 per cent electricity. “It is due to this plant that load-shedding hours in the province have come down by two to three hours,” he said, and added: “The Sindh government has tried to ensure that this plant keeps functioning so that electricity could be provided to the consumers at cheaper rates.” He urged the opposition parties to forge unity in their ranks. “Forget who is cultivating a relationship with Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) or any other party. The only thing that should be our priority is the situation the country is going through presently.” Murad said that the blame-game between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) should come an end.
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