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Delhi: Mask fine returns but those in own cars exempted

Delhi: Mask fine returns but those in own cars exempted
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New Delhi: Within three weeks of lifting its mask mandate, the Delhi government Friday made masks mandatory in public places with immediate effect, and imposed a fine of Rs 500 for any violation as Coronavirus cases rise in the city again.

However, those travelling together in a private four-wheeler are out of the purview of the new rule, according to an order issued by the city's Health and Family Welfare Department.

The order does not mention if people travelling in hired cabs and taxis will be required to wear masks. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority(DDMA) had in a meeting last Wednesday decided to make masks mandatory at public places with a fine of Rs 500 for any violation. The DDMA meeting, attended by Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal among others, had noted that Covid case positivity rate has been increasing in Delhi over the past fortnight. In its order on Friday, the DDMA said it took the decision on fine after examining all relevant facts related to the issue of penal provisions for not adhering to the protocol of wearing masks at public places.

"A fine of Rs 500 for not wearing of face mask in all public places in Delhi will be imposed from immediate effect till further orders," the DDMA said.

On April 2, the Delhi government had lifted the penalty of Rs 500 for not wearing face masks at public places as cases were fairly under control for a few weeks before that.

As far as people travelling an private vehicles are concerned, the Delhi government has modified its rules on at least two occasions this year.

On February 4, the DDMA had allowed single person travelling in a private vehicle to remain without masks. From February 26, however, it tweaked the rule to say that no fine for violating the mask norm will be imposed on people travelling together in a private vehicle.

The Delhi government has asked district magistrates to form teams to ensure implementation of the mandatory mask rule in the city.

However, sources said in view of the government offices running with full capacity and their staff withdrawn from COVID-19 duties, it will be a challenge to enforce the mask mandate.

"This time we will form fewer teams because not much manpower is at our disposal. Also, we expect people to cooperate and use face masks like they did during the height of the pandemic," a senior government officer said. Civil defence volunteers will be deployed in districts to keep a watch on violators, the government said.

Coronavirus cases and positivity rate have been on the rise for the past few days in the national capital.

On Friday, the city reported 1,042 new cases, with a daily positivity rate of 4.64 per cent. Active cases are now at 3,253 and the death toll is at 26,164.

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