Karachi: Sindh government late Friday refuted rumors that the coronavirus lockdown imposed across the province was coming to an end and stated that it was only entering its second phase, starting Monday.

A tweet shared from CM House's Twitter handle said: "CM Murad has categorically said that Sindh was not ending the lockdown on Monday and we are entering the second phase of lockdown with some extra restrictions, particularly at hotspots.”

The post mentioned that the statement was issued as some media channels were "giving the impression that the lockdown was ending on Monday, which was totally wrong."

However, "minor exemptions will be given to some sectors such as construction phase-2, and isolated shops in neighbourhoods would be allowed to operate under SOPs issued by the government," he said.

He categorically mentioned that "air, train, and public transport would continue to remain closed". “Our lockdown is linked to our data,” CM Shah said, adding that Sindh’s provincial health capacity was currently at 20%. “We will consistently adjust our protective measures according to our capacity,” CM Shah said.

The chief minister concluding his statement once again reiterated his stance of "ensuring food security in the country under which the federal government had to start spray against desert locust, otherwise next crop would not be saved from [locust] swarm attacks".

'Sindh to work along Centre to implement revised lockdown plan'

Earlier in the day, CM Shah declared that the Sindh government would work alongside the Centre to implement the new lockdown measures for the mitigation of the coronavirus outbreak. "We will implement the federal government's lockdown decisions to the extent of 99% if not 100%," he said.

The chief minister said that businesses will be allowed to operate five days a week and will remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays, with the exception of those granted exemptions such as grocery stores and pharmacies.

New lockdown SOPs

Shah then elaborated on the new lockdown standard operating procedures (SOPs) for businesses. He said that the province will follow to a tee, the timings allowed for businesses to operate — from sehri to 5pm.

The chief minister said that areas classified as dehs (a demarcation of land inhabited by farming communities) will be able to keep shops open as they are less populated. He also said that small shops located in residential areas will be permitted to operate.

He went on to say that all industries that were shut down before May will remain closed. Similarly, public venues where large gatherings can occur such as wedding halls and cinemas will also remain shut. "We have not forbidden weddings, but large gatherings will not be allowed."

He said that keeping in spirit with the Supreme Court directives, which had called for a uniform plan to be implemented countrywide, the Sindh government had agreed to support the Centre in its decisions. Shah said that there will be a complete ban on political rallies. Hospital out patient departments (OPDs) will now be open.