NCOC issued new guidelines for public gatherings in Pakistan

 No public gathering will be allowed in the cities with 6% to 9% positivity ratio of COVID-19 

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) have issued new guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for Public gatherings in the country.  The new guidelines for public gatherings have been issued three days before the first public gathering of opposition alliance PDM in Central Punjab city of Gujranwala.

The PTI government has announced to allow the opposition alliance PDM to organise public gatherings in different cities across Pakistan. The new guidelines and rules comes at a time when coronavirus cases are on the rise again in Pakistan. The large political and religious gatherings without following the SOPs could further increase the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.   

The NCOC made it clear that the guidelines were not for wedding events or sports one as separate SOPs had been issued for the former and will be released in future, for the latter. 

It defined a public gathering as an event where "where people are assembled on any given space; indoor or outdoor, for some purpose such as cultural events, religious gatherings, sports events, entertainment/cultural events, parties, political gatherings or other similar events". 

The following public gatherings will have to follow the newly issued guidelines and SOPs. 

Entertainment / Cultural Gatherings

Public Gatherings of Unions / Associations or any such group

Religious Gatherings

Political Gatherings

Family Gatherings

Civil Society Group Gatherings

Sports related Gatherings (SOP being issued separately)

Marriage (being frequent & obligatory activity) has been excluded from the list and a separate SOP comprising strict restrictions has already been issued for it. 

SOPs for holding indoor and outdoor public gatherings

The NCOC said that public gatherings "should be discouraged in view of their potential to become super spreaders". It said that preferably no public gathering be held except those related to economic activity only. 

However, in case the holding of these public gatherings are 'unavoidable' then the NCOC stated that they must be held according to the guidelines stated below:

Indoor Events

Maximum participation to be 500 persons or 50% of capacity whichever is less.

Duration of the event/activity should not exceed 3 hours.

All persons would be seated – no standing participation. Inter chair distance to be 3 feet or more.

Outdoor Events

Entry/Exit Controls should be in place

Density Control measures should be taken

Social Distancing should be practiced by attendees

All persons would be seated – no standing participation. Inter chair distance to be minimum 3 feet or more

Duration of the event/activity should not exceed 3 hours

Rallies/walks/gatherings on the roads, streets and other ill-defined places should be avoided

Organizers to be responsible for ensuring compliance of SOPs particularly masks, social distancing and provision of COVID Safety Kit (a mask & a mini hand sanitizer) to each person

No public gatherings to be held in cities where positivity ratio is consistently higher and is within 2nd Slab (6-9%) or above as laid down in instructions “Quantified Triggers & Corresponding NPIs” already issued.

Children and elderly should be discouraged, no attendance without mask

The NCOC said that children and elderly should be discouraged to participate in public gatherings and no persons without masks will be allowed to attend the event. 

Further guidelines are listed below:

People with COVID or respiratory illness related symptoms must not be allowed to attend

Individuals with comorbidities such as chronic illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease etc not are allowed to participate

No handshake or hugging


No meals or light refreshment should be allowed in any type of gathering

Drinking water facilities should be dispersed at multiple locations to avoid crowding

Preferably water bottles be provided to the participants, otherwise disposable glasses to be used

Anti COVID Awareness Board/Banners at the Venues to be displayed by organizers

Periodic announcements for masks, social distance and other SOPs through Sound System during conduct of the event to be made by the organizers

                                                                Rukhsana Manzoor Deputy Editor

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