Pakistan will increase restrictions on citizens without the COVID-19 vaccination today.
Today’s crackdown comes as Pakistan’s overall infection rate has dropped in recent weeks, prompting Planning Minister Asad Umar—leading Pakistan’s COVID-19 response—to announce that on September 14 Pakistan would begin lifting national pandemic restrictions while increasing restrictions for unvaccinated citizens. Unvaccinated citizens can no longer travel, dine indoors or enter large, enclosed venues like shopping malls. Additionally, unvaccinated educators will be barred from returning to work.
The imposition of harsher penalties for the unvaccinated is meant to push hesitant citizens to get the shot, and vaccination rates have slowly increased these past weeks. So far only about 18% of the population is fully vaccinated, but Islamabad aims to vaccinate 40% of citizens 12 and older in the coming months.
Expect today’s restrictions to drive large portions of the Pakistani population to get shots. Hesitancy has been the main cause for lagging vaccination rates. Given the deep-rooted vaccine skepticism in Pakistani society, today’s crackdown will likely push some hesitant citizens who wish to return to normalcy to get vaccinated. Medium- to long-term, penalties may slow economic recovery if large portions of the population remain unvaccinated and locked out of society.
Wescott is a Copy-Editor and Senior Analyst. His thematic focuses are international security, politics, economics and public policy.