Govt collects over 0.35 million rupees in two weeks from face mask rule violators

Published On: July 23, 2020 02:04 PM NPT By: Aditi Baral

As the nationwide lockdown is eased, police brace up to take sturdy actions against people not wearing face masks, breaching rules regarding sanitation protocols

KATHMANDU, July 22: Nepal police have collected a total of Rs 354, 700 in fines in the last two weeks from people violating the rule that requires them to wear face masks outside their houses. According to the data compiled by Nepal Police, as many as 139,016 people were detained from across the country for breaching the government imposed rule of wearing face masks outside their houses from July 7 to 21. Of the total people arrested, 87,984 were males whereas 51,032 were females.

However, only 3,547 people were asked to pay the allocated fine of Rs100 each.

In view of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the nation, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) on the evening of July 6, had directed the local administrations across the country to take action against people who do not wear masks outside their homes. The ministry had issued a circular to the local administrations of all 77 districts and the Nepal Police Headquarters to take necessary action against the offenders.

According to the authorities, the decision was taken after huge numbers of people were seen carelessly violating safety protocols necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 virus. Subsequent to the government easing nationwide lockdown on June 11, people were seen walking on the streets avoiding sanitary measures that intensified fears of the spread of the virus.  

Earlier Umakanta Adhikari, deputy spokesperson for the Home Ministry had told Republica that although the government had narrowed the restriction of lockdown and eased the movement of people with some conditions to follow, the conditions placed by the government were widely neglected and violated by the people. “People show negligence in wearing face masks, following sanitary measures and rarely practice social distancing. The government is compelled to take this action because the condition on which the lockdown was eased is being breached by the public,” he had said.

The circular was directed by the home ministry in accordance with the provisions of the Infectious Disease Act 2020(1964) and the offenders are penalized accordingly. The act mentions that anyone found violating or disregarding this act is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or a fine not exceeding Rs 100, or both.

The data compiled by Nepali police shows that the number of people detained for violating the rule is the highest in Province 1 with 44,032 people arrested until Tuesday evening. Out of the total people arrested in the province, only 464 people were liable to pay a fine.

Similarly, the numbers followed by 20,398 offenders detained in Province 2,  some 8,893 offenders in Bagmati Province, 3,379 offenders in Gandaki Province, 21,904 offenders in Province 5 and 3,918 offenders in Karnali Province and 17,762 offenders were detained in Sudur Paschim Province.

In the Kathmandu Valley itself, a total of 9,730 offenders were detained out of which 6,121 were males and 3,609 were females.

“The intensity of public movement has greatly increased after easing the lockdown. But people are still reluctant to follow sanitary measures in public,” Additional Inspector General Neeraj Bahadur Shahi, who is also the spokesperson for Nepal Police. “Even after the implementation of this rule, many people are seen showing negligence toward following sanitary protocols” he said.

Alongside, the circular passed by the MoHA also directed the local administrations and police officials to take action against those who are seen defying the rules of physical distancing.

Shahi explained that many people are still hesitant to follow this rule even after two weeks of its execution. He said, “Even after two weeks from when this rule was first brought into effect, we see people being averse to follow it. They try to run away from police officials and act like they are forced to wear face masks not for their own safety but to avoid being caught.”

According to Shahi people who are seen breaching the rule are first explained about the rule and are punished only when they start arguing over the issue or do not follow the rule repeatedly.                  

Currently, the nation has already lifted restrictions on multiple sectors, however, this rule will still be implemented until the situation of virus spread gets better. “There are still hundreds of virus cases detected in the nation on a daily basis. To lessen strictness over rules related to sanitary precautions would turn out to be a dull move by the government,” said spokesperson Shahi.



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