Hyderabad: After Telangana reported the highest number of cases in the country on 13 April, all districts in the state are bracing for stricter restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many districts in the state have now made it compulsory for people to wear masks when out in public.

For instance, the Khammam district administration has announced that a fine of Rs. 1,000 will be imposed on people not wearing masks while stepping outside their homes. Tasfeer Iqbal, the Khammam superintendent of police, said, “The district collector had issued a memo that Rs. 1,000 fine will be imposed on those who are not wearing masks. If they violate the order a second time, a case will also be booked against them. As of now, Khammam has recorded seven COVID-19 cases.”

Similarly, in districts like Nirmal, people have to wear masks while going outside. Musharraf Ali Faruqui, the district collector, said 70 per cent of the district is under intense lockdown and people have been discouraged from moving outdoors. “More than half of Nirmal and Bainsa towns are COVID-19 red zones due to which we have imposes a strict lockdown in the area. People are rarely venturing out, which is why not many fines have been imposed,” the collector said. Two people from Nirmal district, who had participated in a religious congregation at Deoband in Uttar Pradesh, have tested positive. The virus is spreading across the districts with 19 Corona virus cases being reported so far.

According to Hari Chandana, the collector of Narayanpet district, all districts have been asked to levy a heavy fine on people not wearing masks. “A fine between Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 will be imposed on violators. COVID-19 is a public health crisis and intense monitoring is required,” she said while also acknowledging that there is a shortage of masks in the district. “Imposing a fine is one thing but non-availability of masks is also an issue. In some cases, we ask violators to buy a double-layered cloth mask for Rs. 20. Fines are also being imposed for spitting in public,” she said.

Taking a U-turn on its ‘masks only for sick’ policy, the Telangana government had announced on 10 April that masks are compulsory for people when they venture outdoors. Updating its advisory to ‘MaskOn’, the state said people should wear masks while stepping outdoors, in closed spaces, and while interacting with others.
The state health and family welfare department further said that this decision has been taken based on the understanding that a large number of people even without showing any symptoms of COVID-19 may act as carriers of the infection and may transmit it to others.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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