Karnataka to impact steep hike in penalty for not sporting masks

Bengaluru, September 30  

The penalty for not wearing a mask in public places will be hiked to Rs 1,000 in urban areas and Rs 500 in rural areas, subject to approval by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, Karnataka Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar said on Wednesday.

At present, the fine amount is Rs 200 and the steep hike has been proposed in view of people not wearing masks in public places as required to check the spread of COVID-19.

It has also been decided not to allow more than 50 people in events, including weddings, and strict actions will be initiated against the organisers on violations, also buses (public transport) can operate with 50 per cent capacity, the minister said.

“In recent times, people have been showing negligence by not wearing masks. Hence, the fine has been increased from Rs 200. The fine will be imposed on those not fully covering their nose and mouth with masks,” Sudhakar was quoted as saying by his office in a release.

The fine will be imposed and collected by police stations in their respective jurisdictional areas, he said, after a high-level meeting with officers regarding the COVID situation in the state, where the positive cases tally breached six lakh mark on Wednesday.

The decision had been taken after careful consideration of recommendation by the senior officers, he said, adding the official directive on the penalties will be out on Thursday, after discussing it with Yediyurappa.

Noting that no more than 50 people can attend social, religious, political gatherings as well as weddings and other cultural ceremonies, Sudhakar said, actions will be initiated against the organisers or owner of the organisation if more people are found gathering.

Markets, malls and other public places cannot have more than five people in a group. A distance of 6 feet must be maintained between the people in the group.

If found otherwise, a fine will be imposed on the owner of the organisation or shop, he said.

The minister further said, buses (public transport) can operate with 50 per cent capacity and conductors will be instructed to allow only those with masks.

The government has also chalked out a special plan to raise awareness about COVID-19 by roping in politicians, sports and film stars, religious leaders to make short clips of videos.

According to the release, fifteen districts in the state have been recording a higher percentage of the cases, and the minister held a meeting via video conference with district administrations of Mysuru, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Tumakuru, Shivamogga, and Koppala.

On the occasion, instructions were issued to the Deputy Commissioners, District Health Officers and other officials concerned to reduce the COVID-19 positive cases in the districts, it said, adding that a similar meeting will be held with the rest of the districts in the days to come. PTI

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