Coronavirus outbreak: Wear masks or get arrested

Updated: Apr 09, 2020, 07:32 IST | A correspondent | Mumbai

The BMC makes wearing masks compulsory for everyone; an official says avoid handkerchieves and scarves, it is better to wear homemade masks which can be reused after disinfecting them

The police stop a rider at Rafi Ahmed Kidwai junction during a nakabandi. Pic/Ashish Raje
The police stop a rider at Rafi Ahmed Kidwai junction during a nakabandi. Pic/Ashish Raje

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has made wearing masks compulsory for those moving out of their house to get essential goods or emergency work. Those not wearing masks could be arrested. The instructions for the same came in the form of a circular issued by BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi on Wednesday. The instructions also specified that even if one is travelling in one's private or official vehicle, wearing a mask is mandatory.

Masks for everyone
The BMC now feels that the spread of COVID-19 is rampant in the city and to stop this it is necessary for every individual to cover her/his mouth and nose and not just those having the disease. Citizens and essential service providers moving for whatsoever purpose in public places like streets, hospitals, offices and markets must wear a 3 ply mask or cloth mask compulsorily. Even those working at a site or in an office to ensure essential services are provided must wear the masks. No individual or officer is to attend any meeting without wearing masks, instructed the circular.

The order further states that these masks may be standard masks available with the chemist or even homemade washable masks, and can be reused after properly washing and disinfecting them. Further explaining this, a civic official said, "It is not expected that citizens get out of their houses by covering their mouths with handkerchieves or scarves. But if one is wearing a proper cloth mask even if it was made at home but is reusable after cleaning and disinfecting it, they may not be penalised. It is expected that citizens don't remove the masks until reaching their house again."

'No handkerchieves, scarves'
He added, "It is better not to use handkerchieves and scarves as people have the tendency to remove them once they reach their destination, and no one should be seen with the mouths uncovered. If one doesn't have a mask at home and has to go to the medical store to get it, one can surely explain the situation if caught by police officers. But it is expected that everybody should have masks and medical stores have been told to have sufficient stock of masks with them."

The circular further reads, "Anybody violating these instructions will be punishable under the Section 188 of Indian Penal Code (48 of 1860) and will be strictly penalised and may be arrested by the police officers or the officers appointed by the Assistant Commissioners of wards. All these officers are hereby authorised to take any actions to penalise such violators stringently. These instructions must be followed very scrupulously."

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