The rule of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) making a mask mandatory for solo motorists – in four-wheelers and two-wheelers – is likely to be put on hold for a week. Following a public outcry, BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad on Thursday wrote to the Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare), seeking a clarification.
The Health Department has, in turn, referred the matter to the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which will again discuss the issue in detail. Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey said the issue has been referred to the TAC.
On the agenda
TAC Chairman M.K. Sudarshan told The Hindu on Thursday that the issue will be taken up at its next meeting. “Till then, the rule will have to be put on hold, at least for a week,” he said.
Mr. Prasad said he has written to the Health Secretary seeking a clarification if solo motorists in four-wheelers and two-wheelers should wear masks compulsorily. “Based on the department’s clarification, we will suitably amend the order, if required,” he said.
In the letter, the Commissioner said: “Keeping in mind the directives of the Supreme Court as to whether a private four-wheeler on a public road constitutes a public space or a private space, a detailed order was issued on October 27. Before issuing the above order, the contents were discussed with the Health Department as well as the police authorities.”
Stating that issues raised by the general public previously regarding wearing masks were placed before the TAC, the Commissioner said in the letter: “The TAC had given clarifications and made some recommendations. These clarifications and recommendations were reviewed in detail in the light of the COVID-19 directives issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, government of India, as well as the government of Karnataka, which mandates use of masks by everyone in public spaces.”
‘Rule of thumb’
TAC member Giridhar R. Babu said it is essential to wear a mask whenever one steps out of the house till a vaccine is available. “I completely support the mask rule. Till we have a vaccine, the rule of thumb is to have a mask as an absolutely essential accessory when we step out of the house,” he said.
Stating that this rule can change as and when the pandemic gets under control, Dr. Babu said, “This is the only way for now.”