The Pakistan government has allowed people to do business five days a week during the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was made at a meeting of the National Coordination Committee. It was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Shops and businesses could function with SOPs from 9am to 7pm, the meeting decided. There will be a complete lockdown in the country every Saturday and Sunday.
The NCC gave a go-ahead for running 10 more passenger trains. Pakistan Railways would now be operating 40 trains in the country.
All Pakistanis stuck abroad would be brought home through special flights, the meeting decided.
It also asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to prepare its suggestions regarding reopening of tourist spots.
PM Khan briefed the media after the meeting. He said the situation in Pakistan was different from Europe.
“We have poverty here,” he said. “A majority of the people can’t even have two meals a day.”
The premier said they had to live with coronavirus until a vaccine was not developed.
“Lockdown is not a cure of the virus,” he said. “It can only reduce the spread of the virus.”
PM Khan said his government distributed $8 billion among people affected by the lockdown. He said there was no guarantee that the virus would not spread after easing restrictions.
“Coronavirus has to spread, I had said it on the day one that it would increase,” the prime minister said. “People must demonstrate responsibility and strictly act upon the SOPs.”
He said the ones affected by diabetes and blood pressure and the elderly people were more vulnerable.
Regarding ventilators, PM Khan said his government was speedily increasing their numbers. “We have more than 50% ventilators vacant even right now.”
He assured healthcare professionals that his government was concerned about their safety.
“Doctors and other healthcare professionals are waging Jihad,” the premier said. “We are aware of their difficulties.”
He said the lockdown had adversely affected the economy, reduced tax collection by 30% and brought investment to a halt.
Pakistan had imposed a countrywide lockdown in the last week of March to stem the coronavirus spread.
The country has gradually eased restrictions in the past few weeks. But this easing of restrictions came with a spike in coronavirus cases across the country.
The number of known cases in Pakistan has jumped to 72,678. The virus has so far killed 1,543 people in the country.