LAHORE: As the coronavirus cases continue to surge across the country, the Punjab government has decided to allow restaurants to reopen.
The decision was taken during a cabinet committee meeting on coronavirus which was convened on the directives of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.
Reportedly, recommendations in this regard have been sent to the federal government and would be presented before the National Coordination Committee (NCC) for final approval.
The committee also decided that markets and shopping malls would be allowed to open from 9 am to 5 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, while on the remain three days, they would remain closed.
The provincial government also recommended opening recreational sites and tourist destinations such as Murree.
The meeting was attended by Law Minister Raja Basharat, Senior Minister Abdul Aleem Khan and Commerce Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal.
Officials of the health department also briefed the meeting about the coronavirus situation while administrative agencies presented a report on the implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Earlier, Lahore Restaurants Unity (LRU) and Lahore Super Markets Association (LSMA) sought help from the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) for reopening their businesses with implementation of SOPs.
LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, along with Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar and Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad, met the delegations of the LRU and LSMA and listened to their grievances.
LRU Chairman Amir Rafiq Qureshi and LSMA President Ahmad Nawaz and Marriage Halls Association Chairman Mian Muhammad Ilyas said that the lockdown had destroyed their businesses to such an extent that they were no heading towards a point of no return.
They said that restaurants and marriage hall owners were ready to follow the SOPs set by the government to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Sheikh said that the LCCI was well aware of the miseries of traders and had already taken up the issues at the highest level. He said that a number of countries, including Turkey, had allowed hotels to open up. “We have to live with coronavirus like various other diseases, therefore, the government should manage and allow businesses to reopen,” he said.
The LRU representatives demanded relief in rents of restaurants located in buildings of government and semi-government departments. They demanded a 100 per cent waiver in utility bills of small restaurants and 50 per cent waiver in utility bills of large restaurants for the next three months.