Press Trust of india

COVID-19: Pakistan’s Punjab province to reopen 544 shrines for visitors

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Islamabad: Pakistan’s Punjab province government will reopen shrines for visitors after easing the lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in the country, according to a media report.

The proposal to reopen the 544 shrines in the province and finalise standard operating procedures (SOPs) for them was presented during a high level meeting, The Express Tribune reported.

The Auqaf department, which controls the management of shrines, is also insisting that the shrines should be reopened as it has so far incurred a loss of Rs 260 million due to their closure.

Officials of the Auqaf department said they had sent suggestions to the provincial government to ease the restrictions on visiting the shrines during the lockdown.

The sources said the administration of a shrine would have to follow the procedure if visitors gather, according to the paper.

The SOPs and related recommendations will be formulated by the home and health departments.

The participants of the meeting, chaired by Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, were informed that there are 544 shrines in the province under the auspices of the Auqaf department, which can be opened as per SOPs.

It was decided that steps should be taken to ensure implementation of the SOPs at the shrines. It is expected that SOPs will be issued after Eid, following recommendations for opening the shrines.

A recommendation to reopen cinema and theatre halls on the occasion of Eid was also reviewed. After reviewing the situation regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic, the proposal was rejected.

The cinemas and theatres will remain closed on Eid because the increased number of visitors expected on the occasion may cause spread of the virus, the paper said.

Punjab Home Department sources said it would be impossible to implement the SOPs in cinema and theatre halls so they would remain closed.

Pakistan on Thursday recorded 2,193 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of infections to 48,091. The death toll stands at 1,017.

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