Amid a spike in Covid cases and positivity rate in Delhi, malls, markets, shopping complexes and restaurants have decided not to allow those not wearing a mask into their establishments. The mask mandate has also been made compulsory again in the city, and violators will be fined Rs 500.
Over 2,000 cases have been recorded over the last two weeks – the number of deaths with the infection and positivity rate are also on the rise. Delhi reported 2,031 cases, 9 deaths and a positivity rate of 12.34% on Saturday, according to the Delhi government’s daily health bulletin.
The Indian Express visited popular malls at Vasant Kunj and Saket, and the Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar markets, to take stock of the ground situation.
At Ambience mall in Vasant Kunj, those not wearing masks were stopped at the entry gate by security guards. “We have been given instructions to ensure people are masked as cases are increasing… We ask people to buy a mask from a kiosk nearby and wear it, after which we let them in,” said a security guard at the entrance.
Among those stopped was Aditi, a student, who said: “I forgot to wear mask today… My sister then went to buy one from the kiosk.”
At some retail stores and restaurants, staff ensured customers wore a mask and checked their temperatures, and handed out sanitisers. The situation was similar at Select Citywalk mall in Saket.
At Sarojini Nagar market, many were spotted without masks and shopkeepers advised them to wear one. “Madam, please mask pehan ke andar aaye, warna humara challan kat jayega,” a shopkeeper told a customer at Sarojini Nagar.
With police deployment beefed up for Independence Day, checking was intensified. The district administration has also started Covid vaccination and testing at the market. “We have asked the administration to deploy civil defence volunteers for strict enforcement of Covid protocols. We shopkeepers are following rules and are advising people to mask up because if cases increase, markets are the first to be shut and we don’t want that,” said Ashok Randhawa, president, Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Association.
At Lajpat Nagar, people were asked to buy masks, wear them and enter. At Metro stations too, where the mask mandate was largely relaxed unofficially, people were being asked to cover their faces with a mask, handkerchief or scarf at the check-in gates.
As cases increased in April, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) brought back the fines for not wearing mask. Further, witnessing an uptick in cases in the last two weeks, district magistrates have directed officials to implement existing Covid guidelines in Delhi more stringently. Last week, the South Delhi district constituted three teams to monitor enforcement and report daily challan figures to the coordination branch.