BHOPAL: The appeal of the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to follow Covid-19 protocols has fallen on deaf ears. Amid resurgence of coronavirus in city, Chief Minister visited Peergate area on Tuesday and distributed face masks and also urged people to comply with the health guidelines.
It seemed that the appeal of the CM, made in person, would have some impact on the people, however, everything was back to square one the very next day. On Wednesday, one could see shoppers moving without masks, and compromising with the social distancing norm in the city market. Even the traders, who could face hefty penalty on failure to ensure the adherence to Covid-19 safety norms, were spotted blatantly flouting the protocols. While the visitors and the shopkeepers remained negligent towards the safety rules, the authorities responsible to ensure compliance were also missing from the sight.
There was no team present around to check or impose fine on violators of corona guidelines. The market from Peergate to Lakherapura remained as crowded as usual. Majority of visitors and shoppers, barring a few, moved sans mask as there was no one to check and penalize them.
Chouhan had personally urged the shopkeepers to strictly follow mask rule, however, the very next day, they were also seen turning a blind eye to all the guidelines.
Violation of of Covid-19 mask protocol in Bhopal | FP photo
On being asked, the shopkeepers had lame excuse. ‘We wear masks all the time but had just removed it due to trouble in breathing’- was the common explanation of one and all.
Most of the shoppers and visitors carried the mask, but while some kept it in their pocket, others had put them safely in their handbags. Many people were seen wearing masks around their neck or chin, but not at the place where it should properly rest. For many, it is the fear of being penalized and not the infection that make them carry the mask and follow social distancing. But if no one is watching, then they too seem to be least bothered.
When they were asked the reason for not covering their face, the shoppers had all possible excuses. Seeing the camera, they grew cautious and masked up. They tried to avoid coming in front of the camera without a mask.
The lame excuses
Sarvesh Singh, who runs a sugarcane juice centre, clarified that he had removed the mask minutes before to breath easily as it was too hot. The man said that he has to operate the machine and it was not easy to work with the mask on. Nadeem Ahmad, garment shop owner said that he puts on the mask whenever a visitor arrives and removes it when he is alone. Other shopkeepers too came with similar excuses. Some reasoned that they find it uncomfortable to talk to their customers with masks on.
Shopkeepers without mask in City market in Bhopal. | FP Photo