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Mask mandate returns in Delhi within 3 weeks, Rs 500 fine for violation

Covid cases and positivity rate have been on the rise for past few days in Delhi

People walk in the Sarojini Nagar market amid rising cases of Omicron variant in Delhi | PTI (File) Representational image | PTI

Within three weeks of lifting its mask mandate, the Delhi government, on Friday, made masks mandatory at public places with immediate effect, and imposed a fine of Rs 500 for any violation as coronavirus cases rise in the city again.

However, those travelling together in a private four-wheeler are out of the purview of the new rule, according to an order issued by the city's Health and Family Welfare Department.

Though the order does not mention if people travelling in hired cabs and taxis are required to wear masks, a senior official said they are not exempt.

The mask mandate will also be in force inside metro trains, and DTC and Cluster buses.

In view of the latest guidelines, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said in a statement that flying squads will be deployed to ensure that the Covid safety protocol including the mask mandate is adhered to by passengers inside trains and premises, it said.

"Passengers will be counselled to ensure strict adherence to the guidelines and offenders will even be penalized on the spot, if required," added the statement.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had in a meeting last Wednesday decided to make masks mandatory at public places with a fine of Rs 500 for any violation.

The DDMA meeting, attended by Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal among others, had noted that Covid case positivity rate has been increasing in Delhi over the past fortnight.

In its order on Friday, the DDMA said it took the decision on fine after examining all relevant facts related to the issue of penal provisions for not adhering to the protocol of wearing masks at public places.

"A fine of Rs 500 for not wearing of face mask in all public places in Delhi will be imposed from immediate effect till further orders," the DDMA said.

On April 2, the Delhi government had lifted the penalty of Rs 500 for not wearing face masks at public places as cases were fairly under control for a few weeks before that.

As far as people travelling an private vehicles are concerned, the Delhi government has modified its rules on at least two occasions this year.

On February 4, the DDMA had allowed single person travelling in a private vehicle to remain without masks. From February 26, however, it tweaked the rule to say that no fine for violating the mask norm will be imposed on people travelling together in a private vehicle.

Coronavirsu cases and positivity rate have been on the rise for the past few days in the national capital.

On Thursday, it logged 965 fresh cases and one death. A day before on Wednesday, the number of fresh cases had crossed 1,000 mark.

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