The government on Monday asked the field administrators to strengthen operations of mobile courts across the country to ensure mandatory use of masks by people besides increasing awareness campaigns to contain rising incidents of COVID-19 cases.
The instruction came at the weekly cabinet meeting, held virtually with prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair at her official residence Ganabhaban and other cabinet members connected from the ministries, as the previous instructions were largely ignored.
The cabinet held talks about the measures to check spread of the novel coronavirus, cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said at a briefing after the meeting.
He said that the issue was also discussed at the meeting of secretaries on Sunday.
‘The field administrations have been directed to take appropriate measures for enforcement of the law and conduct massive awareness campaign among the people to make sure people follow the health guidelines properly particularly about wearing masks,’ he mentioned.
‘If the people come to know that some people are being punished through mobile courts in transports, markets and other places for not wearing masks, they will become aware of it,’ he said.
He said that it was noticed nowadays that many people were not aware of wearing masks.
‘We have to make people more aware. So we have asked the field administrations to visit the spots and make people aware using public address system and hanging billboards,’ Anwarul said.
He underlined the need for coverage of mobile court operations so that people know about the punishments.
People have continued to ignore instructions of using masks and maintaining health guidelines when venturing outdoors as the agencies responsible for executing the government instructions still lack efforts in ensuring enforcement.
At least five circulars have been issued on the issue since the withdrawal of the general holiday on May 31 with rising incidents of COVID-19 infection and death.
People without masks are found travelling on footpaths and on buses while people without masks are usually found at the shops and kitchen markets in busy areas in the capital and outside.
The Cabinet Division had earlier issued three circulars making mask use mandatory for everybody while going out while the directorate general of the health services in May asked the district administrations and the police to treat not using mask in public as a crime under the Communicable Diseases (Prevention, Control and Eradication) Act 2018.
The law prescribes jail for six months or a fine of Tk 1,00,000 or both as the maximum punishment for violations.
No enforcement of the law was, however, found despite incidents of gross violation of the instructions.
On Monday, the government gave several directives regarding wearing mask for overall public safety in the country in the COVID-19 situation.
Officers, employees and service recipients in government, semi-government, autonomous and private offices must wear masks and authorities concerned must ensure the matter, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha reported quoting a Press Information Department handout.
Recipients of all healthcare centres, including public and private hospitals, must wear masks and the hospital authorities will ensure the matter.
The use of masks must be ensured at all places, including educational institutions, mosques, temples and churches. The local administration and steering committees will confirm the matter, said the report.
Buyers and sellers at shopping malls and shops must use masks while the local authority and the market management committee will confirm the matter for public safety.
Buyers and sellers should not buy or sell any product without wearing masks. The local administration and market committee will strictly monitor the matter.
Public transport drivers, driver’s assistants and passengers must ensure the wearing of masks. Passengers must wear a mask before boarding public transport while the authorities concerned, law enforcement agencies and the owners’ association will ensure the matter.
Workers at all industrial factories, including garment factories, all pedestrians, hawkers, rickshaw and van drivers and persons working in hotels and restaurants should wear masks, the BSS report mentioned.
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