If a trader sells products to customers without masks, his shop will be shut down for one to seven days
If you are a resident of Dinajpur's Hakimpur municipality area and intend to buy products from the market but have no mask on your face, you are going to get back from the shop empty-handed.
In an aim to prevent the outbreak of the highly infectious Covid-19 in the area, including Hili land port, the authorities concerned have launched a "No mask, no sale" programme.
The main target of the programme that started Saturday last is to prevent sales of products to customers who do not have masks on their faces.
The programme has kept a provision of penalty for traders too. If a trader sells products to customers without masks, his shop will be shut down for one to seven days.
The decision came, on an advice of a local lawmaker, at a joint meeting of Hakimpur municipality, upazila parishad and health department, and local businessmen.
Dinajpur's Hili port is one of the important land ports of the country. Every day about 300-400 traders or their representatives come here to import and take various products inside the country from India. Residential hotels here also have crowds of traders.
In addition, every day about 250-300 trucks import and export goods between Bangladesh and India. With those vehicles do also come and go drivers and their assistants. Besides, there are more than 850 shops and businesses in the municipality area. The authorities are concerned that coronavirus may spread on a massive scale in this busy area any time.
However, public representatives and businessmen have claimed the virus spread in the port-centric municipality area is not so intense yet as almost all wear facemasks here.
Hakimpur Municipality Mayor Jamil Hossain Chalanta said all businessmen in the municipality area sat in a meeting Thursday last to prevent the coronavirus outbreak. The meeting decided that no one could buy or sell products without wearing a mask.
"If anyone violates this rule, the shop will be closed for various terms," he warned.
Harun-ur-Rashid, chairman of Hakimpur upazila parishad and president of the Hili Land Port Import-Export Group, said "No Mask, No Sale" programme is getting a good response from local shopkeepers and traders while local people are also happy with it.
He further said since this municipality is a port area, traders, truck drivers and others concerned come and go from different parts of the country, including Dhaka and Chattogram. Moreover, drivers and assistants of freight trucks that come from India are Indians. That is why there is a risk of spreading coronavirus in this area.
"However, we have been emphasising the use of masks from the very beginning, and this time we have officially announced a programme."
Now using masks has become a habit in this area, Harun-ur-Rashid said, adding, "We think the programme is helping to control the spread of the virus."
Shibli Sadiq, parliamentarian from Dinajpur-6 (Hakimpur-Birampur-Nawabganj-Ghoraghat) and also the programme consultant, said all the other three upazilas in his constituency (Birampur, Nawabganj and Ghoraghat) have been informed about this.
If the people's representatives and the administration of each area take initiatives in carrying out the programme, the rate of infection can be reduced a lot, he added.
According to him, if a business owner does not use a mask, his institution will be shut down for one to seven days.
In addition, if the driver of a rickshaw-van does not wear a mask, his vehicle will be detained for two days.
"If we can work in this way, it is possible to reduce the prevalence of coronavirus in the whole country," said Shibli Sadiq.
Dinajpur District Coronavirus Infection Prevention Committee Member Secretary and District Civil Surgeon Dr Abdul Quddus said the initiative deserves applause. "We also want this programme to be introduced across the district."
Dinajpur Deputy Commissioner Mahmudul Alam said all concerned in the area have come forward together and implemented the programme which is a very good and effective initiative.