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No masks for commuters in private cars: Delhi govt order

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  • Health experts have commended the move to start imposing fines on those spotted without a mask in Delhi, and said the removal of the penalties may have played a part in the present Covid cases spike.
  • The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Wednesday decided to reintroduce the mask mandate, which was lifted on April 2 this year, when Covid-19 infections and the test positivity rate appeared to be falling back to record lows. (HT Photo/Sunil Ghosh)

People travelling together in private cars are not required to wear masks, a Delhi government order issued said on Friday, even as the state it mandatory for people to wear masks in all public places, amid a marginal uptick in daily Covid-19 cases. However, cab and taxi passengers are not exempted from fine if found without masks.

Violaters of the mask mandate will be fined ₹500, the order, issued by SM Ali, the state’s special health secretary, said.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Wednesday which was lifted on April 2 this year, when infections and the test positivity rate appeared to be falling back to record lows. However, the recent infections spike sent DDMA back to the drawing board, as it decided to conduct random tests in public places across the city.

On February 4, the Delhi government exempted people driving alone in cars in the Capital from mandatorily wearing masks and, from February 28, the government exempted people travelling together in private four-wheelers from wearing masks.

Health experts have commended the move to start imposing fines on those spotted without a mask, and said 

the DDMA after examining all the relevant facts related to the issue of penal provisions for not adhering to the Covid protocol of wearing of masks at public places, decided that… not wearing of face mask/cover in all public places has been made an offence, a fine of ₹500 for not wearing of face mask/cover in all public places in Delhi will be imposed from immediate effect till further orders…” an order issued by the health and family welfare department special secretary SM Ali said.

“Further, the fine under this provision of the notification will not be applicable to persons travelling together in private four-wheeler vehicles,” the order said.

Earlier this week, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh reimposed mask norms in their NCR districts, including Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurugram.

A DDMA official said that districts have been asked to step up the enforcement of Covid-appropriate behaviour, including the mask mandate, in public places. “We are short of teams because now that schools have reopened and all restrictions have been lifted, the manpower we borrowed has reported back to their own departments. With the limited available manpower, we are going to step up enforcement by involving more civil defence volunteers,” said a district official, requesting anonymity.

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