The government on Tuesday said that the countrywide lockdown has extended for the next two weeks citing fears of spread of the novel coronavirus and reopen several Industries.

But, several essential industries and sectors will allowed to reopen given that the prescribed SOP’s are strictly adhered

Federal Minister of Industries and Production Hammad Azhar laid out the government’s plan regarding businesses and industries.

He clarified that with the consensus of federal and provincial governments, items of daily-use, food and grocery, medicine, agriculture, fuels, media, banking

and relief organizations as well as businesses and industries related to these sectors are already operational.

The Minister said that on direction of the Prime Minister, his team identified low-risk industries

where there was a lower chance of the virus spreading and proposed for them to be exempt from the lockdown.

Hammad Azhar went on to highlight the government’s plan, which has agreed upon by all stake-holders.
Industries that have been exempted from the lockdown include: –
– Cement and fertilizer plants
– Mines and minerals
– Chemical manufacturing plants
– Agricultural machinery and equipment producing units
– Industries with site-accommodated labor
– Paper and packaging units
– Glass manufacturing units
– All export industries with export orders confirmed by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan
– E-commerce export and local deliveries of essential products
– Software development and programming firms
– Laundry and dry cleaning services
– Plant nurseries
– Veterinary services
– Book and stationary shops

All these sectors will have to adhere with the SOP’s already provided to the provincial governments.

Professions on which the provincial and federal governments had differing opinions, were
– Electricians
– Plumbers
– Tailors
– Carpenters
– Street vendors

Federal government has recommended allowe them to operate but it was decided that it will the prerogative of the provincial governments. All provincial governments excluding Sindh agreed to allow these professionals to work.

The Federal Minister said it has proposed that the construction sector should reopened in phases with basic industries such as bricks and cement manufacturing industries being reopened first.

All stakeholders agreed to allow cement plants, brick kilns, stone crushing plants, bitumen plants and pre-fab material manufacturers to reopened in phase one.

However, on the topic of reopening construction sites, only Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa agreed with the Federal government’s stance while the others disagreed to resuming construction work just yet.

Hammad Azhar reiterated that all these exemptions have given with the understanding that all given SOP’s will followed strictly.

He also said that as the coronavirus situation is still developing, there will periodic reviews of the government’s policy. Moreover, there will a comprehensive review before Ramadan and revisions will made as the situation demands, he added.