Why wearing facemasks have not become mandatory?
Nearly eighth month into the Coronavirus pandemic, and our public and private authorities have noticeably failed to make wearing facemasks mandatory outside home. At least two-thirds of city inhabitants yet roam about Dhaka without facemasks. We find it difficult to define such widespread defiance, ignorance or whatever the cause may be for not wearing masks in public.
However, like many times before our prime minister had to intervene, stressing on wearing facemasks mandatory. Last Monday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the administration to ensure mandatory use of facemasks by all in public places, and encourage people to follow health guidelines in view of a probable second wave of pandemic attack in the upcoming winter.
The million dollar questions - why the PM had to intervene on such a basic matter? Couldn't the government's administration impose a strict rule for wearing facemasks on its own earlier? Or was the administration waiting for her official instruction? Whatever the answers may be, following PM's order the Cabinet Division issued directives to local administrations to conduct mobile court operations while intensify campaigns to raise mass awareness on the use of facemasks following health guidelines.
Such a crucial directive for local administrators, so to ensure health safety and containing of the virus spread, should have been issued at least six months ago. Since April of this year we had repeatedly penned to make wearing of facemasks compulsory, but our plea fell into deaf ears.
Now that the PM has taken a firm stance on wearing facemasks compulsory in public - local administrators coupled with law enforcers must sincerely comply with the Cabinet Division's directive.
If motivating people through campaigning fails, we urge mobile courts to take appropriate action against violators. Moreover, mobile courts must operate at all corners of our big cities. None should be allowed to be present in public places, mosques, parks, shopping malls, bazaars or anywhere out in the open without wearing facemasks. We call on forming voluntary groups to actively participate in this countrywide campaign. Moreover, our health authorities, shops and pharmacies must make accessing of facemasks cheaper and easier.
Lastly, apart from making use of facemasks compulsory in the country, our local administrations must also distribute facemasks and protective gears for free among the poor and destitute. Many in our major cities still cannot afford disposable masks on a regular basis. In short, without enthusiastic public participation, it will be difficult to mask our people with mere campaigning and a set of legal tools.