Palike to empower marshals to penalise mask violators | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: With the wedding season beginning amid rising Covid-19 cases, BBMP has moved to curb a second wave of infection by empowering its marshals to enforce safety norms such as wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing at weddings and other community events.
The move comes in the backdrop of a loophole: Although marshals were deployed to monitor mask violations in these events, there was no official government order formalising the task, nor clarity on penalties to be levied.
This had handicapped marshals and led to ugly confrontations as people questioned their authority. The Palike will now issue a formal order which arms marshals with powers to punish violators with fines.
At a wedding hall in RR Nagar on Tuesday, marshals were abused by the wedding party for enforcing the rules. “There are easily 300 guests at a minimum at weddings and most of them do not wear masks or maintain social distancing,” said Manjunath L, a marshal. “When we ask them to use masks, they yell at us.”
During Mahashivaratri celebrations on Thursday, marshals were deployed at temples to ensure health protocols were followed. They had to field a volley of questions from devotees.
Many theatres too were packed as a big-budget Kannada movie was released. Masks were conspicuous by their absence at most theatres where the movie was released.
“In cinema theatres, enforcing use of masks is a challenge as people do not understand it and often push us out when we try to enforce the rule,” said Prabhu KV, a senior marshal. “They ask us to show a letter of authority and ID cards.”
Colonel Rajbhir Singh, chief of marshals, said members of his team are often questioned about their rights and powers. “People do not understand that we are working relentlessly for their safety, which is a pity,” he said.
N Manjunatha Prasad, BBMP commissioner, said: “Marshals will be empowered to penalize anyone who violates social distancing protocol at weddings, large gatherings and other events. Anyone seen behaving rudely will be penalized again.”
However, the penalty for behaving rudely with marshals has not been fixed.

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Sagar Biswas

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