Mumbai: Civic chief cracks the whip on offenders; mask must even in vehicle

Mumbai: Taking a cue from the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC), which has implemented a fine of Rs 500 for a person caught in public without wearing a mask, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to do the same in Mumbai region, except that the penalty will be twice as much and violators of this rule may also possibly face imprisonment for up to six months.

Exercising powers under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal issued orders on Monday, making the wearing of masks compulsory, apart from following social distancing measures in public places.

 ‘’Anybody violating this order will be punishable under section 188 of Indian Penal Code (48 of 1860) and a fine of Rs 1,000 will be imposed for each such offence by the police officer or the officers appointed by BMC assistant commissioners. All these officers are hereby authorised to impose penalty against the violators. These instructions must be followed very scrupulously,’’ says the order. 

Anyone who is in a public place (streets, hospitals, offices, marketplace etc) must wear a mask. “Any person moving around in their personal or official vehicle should also wear a mask,” it further states.

Also, no meetings/gatherings will be allowed at any workplace if participants are not wearing masks. Any person found not wearing a mask will be fined. "This order has been issued invoking provisions under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. All ward officers have already been instructed by the BMC commissioner to fine those found without masks,” said Swapnaja Kshirsagar, ward officer, F South.

Explaining why he had to issue an order with a provision of imprisonment and fine, Chahal said it was being observed that since the launch of Mission Begin Again, many citizens were stepping out of their homes and roaming in public places without wearing masks, not just risking their own health but also endangering those in their proximity.

With further gradual relaxation declared by the government for movement of citizens and opening of shops, offices and public transport, there was a possibility of increase in transmission of the virus.

"It has been observed in some studies that wearing a facial mask can reduce the spread of coronavirus substantially from and to persons coming in contact with each other, apart from compulsory social distancing measures,’’ said Chahal. "To contain the spread of the virus, I have come to the conclusion that in the larger public interest, making compulsory the wearing of masks is necessary and must be worn by every person in a public place,’’ he added.

Currently, the number of corona cases in Mumbai have crossed the 70,000-mark since the first case was reported in the city on March 11. Until June 28, the progressive count of cases in the city had increased to 75,047, with the death toll at 4,369, so far.

“Mumbai contributes to 45.58 per cent of overall cases reported in the state and has reached its pandemic plateau, as the number of cases in the last 21 days have ranged from 1,000 to 1,500 daily, without a sudden spike in the Covid-19 curve. But that does not mean the virulence of the SARS-CoV-2 has diminished. This is why we are urging citizens to follow the basic rule of covering their faces with masks,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani.

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