Mumbai: Driving by car with others? Wearing a face mask is a must

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) clarified on Monday that clean-up marshals would not fine a person for being maskless in a private car, if they were the only person in the vehicle.

“If a person is unmasked and driving but there is no co-passenger in the car, then that person will not be penalised by marshals,” clarified Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani on Monday.

“But if there is more than one person in the car, including the driver, then it’s best that everyone is masked or else they will be penalised if caught by the marshals,” Kakani said. He emphasised that passengers travelling in kaali-peelis, app cabs, autorickshaws and two-wheelers had to necessarily be masked while on the go.

Earlier in January, the civic body had issued fresh guidelines stating clean-up marshals would no longer fine people for not wearing masks if they were in a private car. This move came after Mumbaikars complained on social media that they were being fined even when they were safely confined to their cars.

But given the sudden rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Mumbai, the civic body has altered its stance.

To ensure that the public is in strict compliance with Covid norms, the BMC has deployed more than 2,000 marshals across the city. These marshals have been aggressively fining violators of Covid protocol in the city, including those travelling in private vehicles and cabs.

Kakani said the reason for modifying the rule was for the greater good of Mumbaikars.

“One doesn’t really know if their driver is adhering to safety protocols or if the interiors of a cab are thoroughly sanitised, so it is better that everyone wear a mask for the collective good, now that cases are on the rise continuously,” Kakani observed.

Can lower mask at roadside eateries

An individual would also be exempt from penalty if they were seen setting down their masks while eating or drinking at a roadside eatery.

On February 20, the BMC had fined more than 16,000 individuals for not wearing masks, collecting a whopping Rs 32 lakh in fines, the highest single-day collection so far.

Civic officials said many of the violators were fined at roadside eateries, tea stalls and gyms.

“If anyone is having a snack or beverage at a roadside eatery or restaurant, then it is understandable that the mask is kept aside, while eating or drinking. However, those serving them should wear masks,” Kakani said.

Meanwhile, in the past three days, the BMC filed FIRs against multiple pubs, restaurants and banquet halls after finding patrons flouting Covid protocols. The civic body will be monitoring these establishments strictly in the coming days, he said.

“If any of these establishments are seen repeating the same mistakes, then their premises may be sealed or their commercial licences will be revoked,” Kakani warned.

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