In an attempt to minimise the spread of coronavirus infections, Bengaluru’s local civic body the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has decided to crack down on commercial establishments violating Covid-19 norms, ordering officials to impose fines ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
According to a recent order by BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad, commercial establishments in the city are obliged to ensure that people on their premises follow Covid-19 containment rules including the use of masks and maintaining social distance to avoid being ‘super-spreaders’.
Penalties were divided into six categories: Three-star restaurants and above up to Rs 1 lakh; Air-conditioned restaurants, departmental stores, malls, branded shops, cinema halls, organisers of meetings, rallies and other events up to Rs 50,000; non-AC restaurants and shops up to Rs 25,000; organisers of events at any other public place up to Rs 10,000 and smaller hotels, street food sellers and others up to Rs 5,000.
The order was issued days after Karnataka Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar stressed taking precautionary measures citing possibilities of the second wave of Covid-19 infections at the beginning of 2021.
“There are all possibilities of a second Covid wave during the initial months of 2021 for which we have to be extra cautious from December 20 to January 2. These days would be the most crucial period for us,” he had said in Bengaluru after meeting experts of the Technical Advisory Committee last week.
However, the local body’s decision has been contended by owners of establishments who accused the government of “trying to pass the blame” of spreading the pandemic on to them. “It is condemnable that the civic body is trying to tag us as super-spreaders of the pandemic. While all rules mentioned in standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government are enforced, holding us accountable for the customers’ behaviour is not acceptable. Let marshals come in and fine customers violating the rules directly,” the owner of a hotel in Koramangala said.
Meanwhile, Prasad clarified that the order is in place to avoid the spread of the pandemic from events and venues where people gather together. “This should not result in another hike in the number of positive cases in the city. Once the responsibility to ensure those in attendance wear masks, maintain social distancing and use sanitisers is seen to, fines may not be levied,” he said.
The BBMP Commissioner added that high attendance at temples due to the festive season is another concern. “As many as 100 BBMP marshals have been deployed to enforce Covid-19 rules for events with permission. Inspections at malls and temples will be intensified,” he said.
With a cumulative count of over 3.74 lakh, capital city Bengaluru has recorded over 40 per cent of Karnataka’s total caseload. To date, a total of 8.93 lakh cases were detected in the state, with 11,856 deaths.
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