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          Shoppers frustrate Bengaluru Covid-19 safety enforcers

          Holiday shoppers frustrate Covid-19 safety enforcers in Bengaluru

          For most people, having their mask under their chin is the same as wearing a mask, says a patrol squad member

          K R Market in Bengaluru. Credit: DH Photo

          Thousands of festival shoppers overwhelmed the BBMP’s?attempts to enforce social-distancing regulations in Chickpet, Bengaluru’s traditional business hub, on Saturday.?

          With five out of every 10 shoppers or vendors wearing masks improperly and every tenth individual not wearing it at all, marshals and other staffers from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike found it impossible to police the crowd.?

          “It has been very difficult to control people,” said a deputised BBMP marshal deployed at the main gate entrance to KR Market.? “There is a flat penalty for those wearing masks, but for those wearing masks improperly we conduct an RT-PCR test,” he added. As of 1.30 pm, about 96 such tests had been done at this main gate.?

          Follow DH's coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic here

          However, over a five-minute period glimpsed by DH, only one of 12 violators spotted at the market main gate actually agreed to submit to a test.?

          This individual, a resident of nearby Chamarajpet, gave his name as Raju. “I pulled my mask down while buying flowers for puja. I forgot to pull it back later,”?he told DH.? One man slipped through the crowd to escape, with his wife shouting at the Palike staffer that he was “too intoxicated to be tested”.? A BBMP official in the Dhamraya Swamy Temple ward quadrant of the market, who gave his name as Madhubhushan, clarified to DH that ingestion of alcohol previous to testing “produces strange results”.

          ‘Outbreak over’?

          When shoppers were quizzed as to why they were risking the chance of contracting Covid-19 by coming to the market, several said they felt the situation had become normal. “The daily Covid-19 numbers are coming down. I think the epidemic is over,” said one shopper, Kiran.?

          Near Avenue Road, when two marshals accosted two men for not wearing face masks, an argument ensued. Although both men were photographed by the BBMP while not wearing masks, the violators claimed otherwise. The men, one of whom was wearing an ID card lanyard, reading ‘Raj Bhavan’, refused to pay the fine. The BBMP patrolmen expressed frustration.?

          “For most violators having their masks dangling down below their chin is the same as wearing a mask. Our options are limited. We cannot physically take them to a police station to explain,” one patrol squad member said.?

          “There are too many violators,” another BBMP officer said. “It is impossible to catch all of them.”?