Government orders have failed to mask people’s callous approach to virus safety
The rush of people seeking services at Nagar Bhaban begins before 10 in the morning. People throng there for different purposes ranging from issuing trade licences to attending case hearings.
All of them, apparently, share a common tendency – a reluctance to wear a face mask despite the looming fear of the second infection wave of the novel coronavirus. And the authorities also turn a blind eye to this as no one at the entrance of the city
corporation office forces people to comply with the virus safety measure.
The government, on 3 November, issued a circular to strictly implement the "No mask, no entry" order, after failing to implement the previously announced "No mask, no service" instruction.
The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) office entrance on Sunday did not have a "No mask, no entry" sign; even the security guards inside were roaming around without face coverings as if the pandemic was over.
Businessman Shariful Islam was entering the office wearing his mask around his chin. "I had put the mask on for a long time. Therefore, I took it off for a while," he replied as he was reminded that face masks are mandatory in government offices.
Another service seeker without a face covering was talking over the phone at the entrance. He was asked if he knew of the "No mask, no entry" order.
"I feel uncomfortable talking with a mask on. I will wear it when I go inside," he replied.
In the meantime, DSCC Chief Executive Officer ABM Amin Ullah Nuri told The Business Standard that they held a meeting Sunday on virus safety measures taking the concerning situation into consideration.
"No one will be allowed to enter the office without a face mask from Monday. Service seekers will also not be allowed to crowd the elevator. We will take up a massive campaign for the 'No mask, no entry' slogan," said the DSCC official.
During a visit to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Dhaka's Khamarbari, the floors were found having the "No mask, no entry" banners. But, people at the government office were reluctant to put face masks on, and there was a measure, too, to force service seekers to comply with the virus safety rule.
However, more people had face coverings at the DAE than the DSCC office. Again, some people without masks were seen entering the office, and they seemed not to have any concern over contracting the virus.
The lax approach to virus safety was common at other public offices in the capital while the picture of ignorance was also prominent in district headquarters.
People remained reluctant to put on a mask despite mobile courts fining shirkers.
The Business Standard's (TBS) Sylhet correspondent said people in the divisional headquarters were reluctant to don face masks.
Most of the people entered the office of the divisional commissioner Thursday without face coverings though the main entrance had a "No mask, no entry sign."
"I have it [a mask] in my pocket. Wearing a mask for a long time causes suffocation. I will put it on before entering the officer's room," said Misbaur Rahman, who came to the office from Balaganj upazila.
Visiting Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital on Thursday around noon, most of the visitors to the hospital were found without face masks on. Even many patients were roaming around without face coverings.
While contacted, deputy director of the hospital Himanshu Lal Roy said, "We are telling everyone to wear masks. Patients without masks are being refused for outpatient treatment. We will be tougher in this regard."
Meanwhile, Sylhet Civil Surgeon Dr Premananda Mondal believes people need to be more aware about their health safety and should put on a mask for their own sake.
TBS' Khulna correspondent said there was not much of a change in peoples' lax approach to virus safety amid ongoing mobile court-led drives against shirkers.
On 9 November, the Khulna district administration conducted drives at four points of the city by setting up mobile courts. On the first day of the raid, 58 people were held for not wearing face masks, and fines totalling Tk17,500 were issued.
Khulna Civil Surgeon Dr Suzat Ahmed said people need to be aware, on their own, to tackle the second wave – which many fear will strike the country in winter.