ISLAMABAD: A day after the federal government announced that it is mandatory to wear masks in public places, the capital administration has decided to fine violators Rs3,000.
On May 30, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services (NHS) announced that with 92pc of reported Covid-19 cases being of local transmission, the government has made it mandatory for people to wear masks in mosques, markets, malls, on public transport, trains and commercial flights and in crowded areas.
Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat told Dawn that it has been mandatory to wear masks in all public places.
“Anyone who violates this will be charged under section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code,” he said, adding that assistant commissioners and magistrates may impose fines on the public in the capital.
He added: “Once the mask is worn, it is part of the face and must not be touched throughout its use. If touched or handled after wearing, hands must be washed with soap and water or sanitised with an alcohol-based hand rub according the hand hygiene guidelines. The mask must be replaced with a new once when it is soiled or becomes damp.”
“The soiled disposable mask shall be disposed of properly and the reusable one shall be placed in a sealable polythene bag and placed in a dedicated pocket of the dress or in a dedicated pocket of a washable handbag.
Procedure will be similar to traffic rules violations, fine will range from Rs100 to Rs3,000
The pocket of the dress or the bag, in which a soiled mask was saved, shall not be used or handled for any other purpose before washing.
N95 mask is only needed in high-risk healthcare facilities by health workers and is beneficial only when worn with special precautions and appropriate procedures,” he said.
When asked, Mr Shafqaat said the administration has received a directive from the Ministry of NHS that wearing masks has been declared mandatory.
“Our teams will check crowded areas and will initially warn and advise people to wear the masks and then, after a few days, fines will also be imposed. The fine will range from Rs100 to Rs3,000. Initially, we will fine people Rs100 so that they start wearing masks, which are available for just Rs20,” he said.
He added that the administration has also decided to distribute masks for free and said he hoped people would wear masks without hesitation.
“Those who cannot wear masks should cover their mouth and nose with fabric, but we will ensure that the policy will be implemented as the chances of human to human transmission drops to just 1pc by wearing masks,” he said.
When asked how fines will collected, he said they will follow the procedure used by the traffic police to fine people.
“Our magistrates will issue slips to violators and their CNICs or other documents will be taken. Once violators deposit the fine with the exchequer, they will be allowed to collect their documents,” he said.
He said that fine will be deposited directly into a State Bank account, and the district administration will have nothing to do with it.
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2020