Wear mask or face the music

Over 100 fined in capital

In view of people’s slack in abiding by the health guidelines amid rising deaths and infections due to the coronavirus pandemic, the field-level administrations havestarted taking measures necessary to make people habituated to maintaining health guidelines as prescribed by the government to stem transmission of the deadly virus.

As part of the moves, drives by the mobile courts have been launched in the capital Dhaka as well as across the country while campaign to make people aware of the health guidelines has also been started.

It is widely noticed that most of the people are not wearing facemasks and maintaining social distancing while authorities of shops, markets and transports are grossly violating health guidelines. 

People walking on footpaths,travelling on buses and visiting the shops and kitchen markets in busy areas without masks in the capital and also outsideit has nowadays become a common sight that does not escape one’s attention.  

In this circumstance, the government has decided to make people more aware and asked the field administrations to visit the spots and make people aware using mikes and hanging billboards.

As per the decision, officers, employees and service recipients in government, semi-government, autonomous and private offices must wear masks and authorities concerned must ensure the matter.

Meanwhile, the mobile courts run by Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) on Tuesday fined a total of 97 persons and two shops in the capital Dhaka for not abiding by government’s health guidelines.

DMP officials said mobile courts in several drives filed a total of 99 cases in the capital for defying health codes announced by government and also realised Taka 31,350 as fine.

During the drives, 34 persons were fined in Tejgaon Division of DMP, 27 in Ramna Division, 11 in Wari Division and 17 in Lalbagh Division.

The mobile courts also fined seven more persons in areas under Mirpur Division and one person and two shops under Gulshan Division.

DMP officials said, these drives have been launched after the government ordered the field-level administrations to conduct mobile courts alongside gearing up awareness campaign to make people aware of using masks to stem the deadly coronavirus.

Earlier, on Aug 10 (Monday) the government asked the field administrators to strengthen operations of mobile courts across the country to ensure mandatory use of masks by people besides increasing awareness campaigns to contain rising COVID-19 cases.

The instruction came at the weekly cabinet meeting, held virtually with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair at her official residence Ganabhabanwhile other cabinet members were connected from the Secretariat, as the previous instructions were largely ignored.

Cabinet secretary KhandkerAnwarul Islam said, the cabinet held talks about the measures to check spread of the novel coronavirus.

“The field administrations have been directed to take appropriate measures for enforcement of the law and conduct massive awareness campaign among the people to make sure people follow the health guidelines properly particularly about wearing masks,” he mentioned.

He said, if people come to know that some people are being punished through mobile courts in transports, markets and other places for not wearing masks, they would become aware of it.

Earlier, at least five circulars have been issued on this important health issue since the withdrawal of the general holiday on May 31 with rising incidents of COVID-19 infection and death.

As per the circulars, using of face masks are mandatory for everybody while going outside. Besides, the directorate general of the health services in the month of May asked the district administrations and the police to treat not using mask in public as a crime under the Communicable Diseases (Prevention, Control and Eradication) Act 2018.

The law prescribes jail for six months or a fine of Tk 1,00,000 or both as the maximum punishment for violations.

No enforcement of the law was, however, found despite incidents of gross violations of the instructions.