New Delhi, Oct 4 (PTI) In a meeting held last month, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had emphasised not lowering guard against COVID due to upcoming festivals even as it decided to do away with wearing face masks after September 30.
According to the minutes of the meeting held on September 22, and accessed by PTI, a notification revoking the Rs 500 fine on not wearing masks is expected to be issued by the health department on Wednesday.
The decision to revoke the mask mandate was anything but unanimous and differences abound, as per the minutes of the meeting issued by Sushil Singh, special CEO, disaster management.
Chief Secretary of Delhi Naresh Kumar had in the meeting said that the current situation was comfortable but the guard against Coronavirus could not be lowered as the variants keep coming up.
The health ministry has advised caution in view of multiple festivals – from September 26 to December 31 – and likely mass gatherings across the country.
Niti Aayog member Dr V K Paul had in the meeting emphasised that surveillance was still needed as the virus is still present and its mutations and variants have emerged from time to time.
Dr Rajendra Singh, member NDMA, came up with a suggestion that wearing of masks be continued up to November 15 in view of coming festivals.
Delhi Police Commissioner sought clarity and complete set of instructions on the enforcement of mask mandate.
The Chief Secretary suggested that a “self discipline mode” may be tried now as the public is well aware of its responsibilities and what constitutes a COVID-appropriate behaviour.
Revenue minister Kailash Gahlot in the same meeting reiterated that there were “practical difficulties” in the enforcement of the mask mandate, and stressed the need to relax the rule.
Kunal Satyarthi, joint secretary NDMA, agreed with him saying that wearing of masks may not be advisable in the present circumstances, the minutes said.
The meeting chaired by LG V K Saxena and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in attendance, summarily agreed that though wearing of masks was useful in maintaining a COVID-appropriate behaviour, the order of compulsory wearing of masks under the Epidemic Act may not be extended beyond September 30.
The DDMA also agreed that the fine of Rs 500 for not wearing masks in public places will stand withdrawn after September 30, it added. PTI VIT VN VN
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