CM reduces penalty for not wearing masks

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Wednesday reduced the fines to ₹250 in urban areas and ₹100 in rural areas.

Barely a week after the State government increased fines for not wearing masks properly to ₹1,000 in urban areas and ₹500 in rural areas, it made a U-turn on its decision in the face of public opposition.

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Wednesday reduced the fines to ₹250 in urban areas and ₹100 in rural areas.

Prior to the increase, violators were fined ₹200. The government’s decision to increase the amount to ₹1,000 did not go down well with many activists and citizens’ groups, who felt it would engender corruption. On Wednesday, protests were held by citizens in front of the BBMP’s office in Jayanagar against the prohibitive fines.

Later in the day, Mr. Yediyurappa in a statement said the fines had been reduced following widespread objections. He urged people to voluntarily wear masks, maintain a social distance, and help the government in its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This is not the first time that the government has attempted to raise fines. When masks were first made mandatory in Bengaluru this May, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) fixed the penalty at ₹1,000 for the first violation and ₹2,000 for subsequent violations. However, it was revised to ₹200 soon after.


The CM’s order was received around 4 p.m. on Wednesday. “We stopped fining citizens soon after and only issued strict warnings,” said a marshal.

According to sources in the BBMP, hand-held machines used by the marshals will have to be recalibrated as they are automated to issue receipts for ₹1,000.

“The recalibration should be completed on Thursday,” sources said, and added that irrespective of the fine amount, there was now better awareness among people about the importance of wearing masks properly.

Srinivas Alavilli from Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy said the government had to first launch targeted communication campaigns to ensure that all citizens know the importance of wearing masks.

“That apart, more than the quantum of fine, it is the certainty of being fined that makes the difference,” he said and added that a bit of ‘Gandhigiri’ would also work.

“We should go around giving roses to those not wearing masks. This will shame them and they are likely to fall in line,” he added.

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Sagar Biswas

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