2631 booked for not wearing masks in last 6 days in Kolkata as festive fervour grows

Kolkata Police said its drive against negligence in following Covid-19 guidelines is in full swing.
Huge mass of people can be seen shopping at the New Market area ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata.(PTI)
Huge mass of people can be seen shopping at the New Market area ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata.(PTI)
Updated on Oct 21, 2020 06:53 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Kolkata | ByHT Correspondent | Posted by Abhinav Sahay

With Durga Purga starting from Thursday and pandal hoppers already hitting the streets in lakhs since Monday, the Kolkata Police has intensified its vigil against those not wearing face masks to check the spread of coronavirus.

The police over the last six days, between October 16 and 20, have booked at least 2,631 people for not wearing masks in Kolkata. In the preceding six days the police had booked 787 violators.

This comes at a time when Kolkata is witnessing a sharp spike in Covid-19 cases as residents are thronging the markets for puja shopping and pandal hoppers have hit the streets in lakhs.

While Kolkata reported 809 cases on Tuesday, 4,029 new cases were registered across West Bengal. Exactly a month ago on September 20, Kolkata reported 514 new cases and the state had registered 3,177 new cases. The positivity rate has jumped from 6.9% to 9.2% in the last one month.

HT had earlier reported how the city police had apparently lowered its guard against those without masks in the first week of October. The West Bengal government had made wearing of face masks mandatory on April 12 to check the disease from spreading.

Also Read: Festival season, small gatherings aid spread of Covid-19, warn experts

On an average, 160 people were booked everyday between October 5 and October 11 for not wearing masks in public places while more than 300 people were arrested every day for the same reason between September 5 and September 11. The number of such prosecutions in August was even higher with around 410 violators booked every day.

“The vigil has been intensified. The police had launched a campaign titled MaskUpKolkata in July. There has been no laxity. Violators are being booked regularly,” said a senior officer of Kolkata Police.

Also Read: Kolkata plans live streaming Dussehra amid Covid-19 pandemic

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the Nation on Tuesday had urged people to wear masks, the Calcutta high court while hearing a PIL on Monday has warned that just banning the entry of visitors inside pandals may not be able to control the spread of the pandemic if people come out to the streets in big numbers.

Citing examples of Kerala where Covid-19 cases had shot up after Onam, city doctors had earlier warned the Mamata Banerjee administration that coronavirus infection in Bengal could increase up to four-fold, if restrictions were relaxed during the festive season.

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