Punjab decides to lift smog lockdown

LAHORE: After a heavy spell of rain in parts of Punjab on Friday, the provincial government has decided to lift the lockdown imposed to deal with the thick smog that engulfed several districts, deteriorating the air quality to a dangerous level.

However, the downpour washed away the smog, subsequently improving the air quality.

“After assessing improved air quality post recent rainfall, in consultation with experts and [the] Punjab environment department, we’ve decided to lift the lockdown,” Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi announced on X.

He said that the shops and markets can function as per routine while the restaurants can also continue operations after 6pm, as restricted under a smart lockdown imposed in the light of the smog situation.

“The recent restrictions related to smog will be lifted from tomorrow morning,” he added.

The Punjab authorities on Thursday revised a previously imposed lockdown in multiple districts of the province, including Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Sialkot, and Narowal.

As per the notification, markets in the smog-hit districts were to be allowed to operate on Thursday and Friday, however, shopping malls and markets will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Earlier in the week, an environmental and health emergency had been declared in Lahore, Gujranwala, and Hafizabad divisions for four days due to the prevailing smog conditions.

At this AQI level, the city maintained its position as one of the most polluted cities with citizens experiencing a hazy and smoggy atmosphere throughout the day. The air quality was severely poor, making it nearly impossible to breathe normally outdoors. -Agencies