ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Pakistan will resume domestic flights from Saturday after the government eased some of the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, according to the Aviation Ministry.

However, international flights would remain suspended until May 31. 

According to the ministry, domestic flights will initially be resumed from five major cities — including capital Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar.

In March, Pakistan had imposed a nationwide lockdown, suspending domestic and international flights operations, closing shops, markets, shopping centers, and offices except for emergency services, in a desperate move to curb surging COVID-19 cases.

Last week, Pakistan relaxed coronavirus restrictions and opened small markets and shops across the country despite a sharp rise in cases. However, the government extended the closure of education institutions across the country until July 15.

Pakistan is the second worst-hit country in South Asia after India, with 37,218 total number of cases, including 803 deaths and 10,155 recoveries, according to the Health Ministry. 

Meanwhile, the government has also decided to make the use of face mask at public places mandatory across the country.

The decision was taken in a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in the capital Islamabad.

“The meeting has decided to make the use of mask mandatory for all people at public places,” Zafar Mirza, state minister for health, told media. 

Speaking on the current situation in the country, the premier said: “I was not in the favor of strict lockdown because I knew it would affect the daily wagers.”

Khan also announced easing more restrictions and allowed reopening of the automotive industry from Monday.

“I have also asked provincial governments to reopen public transport as people couldn’t bear the suspension for a long time and it’s also negatively affecting our economy,” the premier said.

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