NSoJ News Bureau
Bengaluru: COVID-19, Corona, the pandemic: these have been the most mentioned words in the past two years. There is no one who doesn’t know about the 21st century’s biggest scourge which has claimed millions of lives across the world. There were times when hospitals were full of patients, mortuaries overflowing with the dead. There was a desperate demand for medicines, hospital beds, sanitizers, face masks, and other essentials. The country’s economy was at the brink of collapse. What has happened to the fear that was evident a few months ago?
With India facing the reality of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Karnataka had clamped various restrictions all over the State. These included a weekend curfew; online classes for schools and colleges (except for classes 10 and 12); 50% occupancy in malls and theaters till they were all lifted by the Government by the 31st of January.
How are these restrictions officially called COVID- 19 appropriate behavior, being followed by the citizens? A cursory look at the way the protocols are followed shows that people have not taken the government instructions seriously, be it wearing masks or following social distancing regulations.
“I cannot do anything about it. Everyone has different needs and I cannot prohibit anyone from getting into the bus,” said a bus conductor of the public transport. “With the government reducing the frequency of trips, it is impossible to follow COVID-19 protocols, since the buses are overcrowded, especially during the peak hours,” he added.
It is much more difficult to contain the virus in overpopulated areas, such as slums in which five or six people live in a 10 x 10 enclosure.
Everybody uses masks only when they are stepping out far from their area, otherwise, they do not consider wearing a mask necessary. “We do not believe in COVID-19, and all are safe here. We don’t use masks,” said a resident of a slum.
People crowding at roadside eateries without masks and social distancing. Credits: Sowmya Raju (PG '22)
The majority of the roadside vegetable and fruit vendors do not wear masks, do not use sanitizers, and gather in groups. “It is difficult to talk to customers with masks on so, we don’t wear masks,” said a vegetable shop vendor.
In restaurants, social distancing is not maintained.
Even if the customers are wearing masks, they are not wearing them properly, which defeats the purpose of masks altogether. Disposable plates and cups are not in use and the reusable plates that are provided are not always properly sanitized.
Even the washrooms and hand wash areas in various restaurants are not cleaned at regular intervals and not monitored properly.
In public places such as malls, it is easier to follow the COVID-19 protocols.
“We check everyone’s vaccination certificate outside the mall and that has reduced the number of visitors. Even though it is a bad reflection on those who have not got vaccinated, it makes our job easier,” said a mall security guard.
“People listen when I tell them to wear masks and they are aware of the situation,” said a guard at another mall. Roadside shops and shopping areas such as Shivajinagar and Commercial Street are filled with people who don’t wear masks and nobody seems to be keen on following the social distancing norms.
Any kind of restrictions from the government may not work against the spreading virus unless people follow the protocols systematically in their own interest.