Delhiites flout COVID norms amid case surge, officials worried

A health worker administering a Covid-19 vaccine to a beneficiary at a SDMC dispensary Raghubir Nagar, in West Delhi on January 15, 2022.

A health worker administering a Covid-19 vaccine to a beneficiary at a SDMC dispensary Raghubir Nagar, in West Delhi on January 15, 2022.

Despite the city administration introducing stricter curbs over the last nine days, the flouting of norms has continued unabated across the Capital.

The only benefit achieved from the new restrictions — weekend curfews, the shutdown of private offices and bars and temporary suspension of dine-in services at restaurants — is preventing large public gatherings, while citizens remain resistant to wea-ring masks and maintaining social distancing in public.

As many as 45,863 fines, worth over ₹9 crore, were issued over the nine-day period from January 6 to 14, compared to 25,202 during January 1 to 5. Mask-related violations accounted for almost 97% of the total fines issued for non-adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour.

In fact, during January 6 to 14, of the 212 people fined every hour for not following the restrictions, 205 were prosecuted for not wearing masks or not wearing them properly. Between January 1 and 5, 210 people were fined every hour for non-adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour; of them 202 had been prosecuted for mask-related violations.

The weekend curfew was imposed beginning January 7 but the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) imposed restrictions on private offices, eateries and watering holes a few days later.

Despite the stricter enforcement, compared to the five-day period from January 1 to 5, and sensitisation campaigns by district administrations across the city from January 6 to 14, fines issued for not following social distancing increased from 584 to 964 and from 217 to 401 for spitting in public. While the number of people prosecuted for drinking and consuming tobacco in public reduced by half from 50 from 25, fines for large public gatherings and congregations plummeted to zero from 85.

“Citizens must understand that wearing masks is important not only for their own health but for the sake and safety of their parents who are of advanced ages and bound to have comorbidities, as well as children in their families who are yet to be vaccinated,” a senior government official said.

The Delhi government has, on more than one occasion stated that citizens of any age group with comorbidities and the unvaccinated are among the most vulnerable to the ongoing wave of infection.

Of the 97 deaths that occurred in Delhi hospitals between January 9 and 12, 64 were aged between 41 and 80 years; 70 of the 97 were not vaccinated while 27 were fully vaccinated.

District officials said they were trying their best to spread awareness on the importance of wearing masks properly and maintaining social distancing through various ways — increasing the number of enforcement teams, sensitization programs involving residents’ and market associations, conducting nukkad nataks and distributing free masks — but mostly to no avail.

According to enforcement officials, in addition to being deceived, they were even subjected to physical assaults when they imposed fines of ₹2,000 for mask-related violations.

“The people themselves don’t support such drives; most people who are pulled up for not wearing masks claim they were eating or drinking. On the other hand, there have been many cases across the city where enforcement teams have been beaten up for imposing fines,” another official said.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 5:59:28 am |