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Online businesses in Sindh to resume operations from today under new SOPs

Online businesses in Sindh to resume operations from today under new SOPs

KARACHI: 5,000 shopkeepers and traders have filled in forms to be submitted to the authorities today for the resumption of businesses under the new standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Sindh Home Department last week.

The provincial government has given conditional permission to start online businesses from Monday to Thursday between 09am to 03pm as the lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus continues to remain in effect.

Businesses, foremost are required to pledge they will “undertake to conduct business fully on-line/on phone”, said a five-page notification released by the home department.

They must then “give such undertaking before opening their business and shall be applicable to all persons engaged in such business including owners, proprietor, as well as their staff/workers, delivery persons etc”.

Businesses are allowed to operate from 9am to 3pm with their shutters down. No customer is allowed to enter the shop premises.

Before they start online operations, they are required to give detailed briefings on the COVID-19 spread, preventive steps to be taken against the spread, and the signs and symptoms of the disease to look out for.

Workplaces must put up instructions with text as well as pictorial descriptions of guidelines to follow in all commonly understood languages such as English, Urdu and Sindhi.

It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure all employees follow the set safety protocols, said the notice, adding that the provision of protective gear must also be ensured by the owner.

Among the SOPs issued — besides safety precautions such as no handshakes and frequent hand-washing — is the maintenance of a “daily log of medical history” of all employees.

Thermal guns have to be used at all workplaces to scan for fever. Workers displaying symptoms of the virus must not be allowed.

In the unfortunate instance an employee contracts the virus, the employer must bear responsibility and all expenses for the treatment.

When out making deliveries, delivery persons are required to display an identity card from their workplaces, along with their Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC), and a log of each delivery is also to be maintained.

Those handling deliveries must always wear protective gear, helmets with a mark of business on them, carry hand sanitisers, place the delivery items on the customer’s doorstep and wipe them with a disinfectant.

A distance of at least one metre is to be observed at all times and cash handling minimised. The business must provide customers with electronic receipts for the transactions conducted.

Any business found violating any of the set protocols will be liable for action under the Sindh Epidemic Disease Control Act 2014 as well as any applicable labour or industrial law.

For this, inspectors duly authorised by deputy commissioners or secretaries may check the workplaces for compliance with the rules.

Law enforcement agencies, the deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner, and labour department officials are authorised under Section 3(1) of the Act to issue further orders or instructions and take action “if deemed necessary”.