Pakistan eases restrictions, small businesses reopen

Small shops and markets reopen across Pakistan after the government relaxed coronavirus restrictions due to the virus’ economic impact.

Pakistan further relaxed coronavirus restriction on Monday in order to open small shops and markets across the country in spite of a sharp rise in COVID-19 infected cases.

According to the government officials, all the small shops, markets, and allied industries of the construction sector reopened on Monday under a federal government announcement last week.

Ajmal Khan Wazir, spokesman of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, said that as part of the government decision, all small shops and markets will reopen from morning to evening for four days per week.

Wazir requested the public to follow standard methods to prevent the coronavirus’ spread.

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan also announced a gradual exit from the nationwide lockdown in spite of an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Prime Minister Khan said that the nationwide lockdown has badly hurt small businessmen, laborers, and the general public. He added that the country’s tax revenues dropped 35% while exports also fell because of the lockdown.

However, the government still extended the closure of education institutions in the whole country until July 15.

In March, the country imposed a nationwide lockdown, closing markets, shops, shopping centers, and offices except for emergency services, as parts of a desperate move in order to curb surging coronavirus cases.

Last month, Prime Minister Khan announced the reopening of “low-risk” industries, such as agriculture, e-commerce, paper and packaging, construction, to stem a deepening economic meltdown due to the virus.

The government also allowed prayer in mosques for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan, the second worst-hit country in the region after India, has climbed to 30,931, according to the Health Ministry. The death toll in the country also risen to 667.

Meanwhile, 8,212 people have recovered and discharged from the hospitals.

Globally, there have been more than 4.1 million cases of the coronavirus, along with about 283,000 deaths and more than 1.4 million recoveries, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.