The reports of a surge in Covid-19 positive cases in the city are making many worry about whether another wave is knocking at the door. But if Delhiites get back to taking precautions and mask up properly, won’t it ease some of the anxiety?

Though the cases are not as high or severe as the previous waves, but Delhi Disaster Management Authority still has the rule to impose a fine of 500 on those not wearing masks in public places. The real picture, however, is for everyone to analyse on their own. Unlike earlier, Delhi Police is no longer issuing challans to those not masked up. When contacted, the officials informed us about the same, adding that they are still “encouraging” people to mask up.

Many who do get caught flouting the rule have excuses aplenty. “Whenever an official spots me without a mask, I know mujhe challan ya lecture denge. So I tell them ki mask se specs foggy ho jate hain, and I might trip while walking. Kabhi kabhi I say ki paani peene ke liye utara tha, abhi wapas pehen raha hun,” says a tax assistant manager, on condition of anonymity.

Others point out genuine challenges of masking up, one of them being the inability to hear someone’s speech clearly. Take for instance Jacqueline Joseph, a college student, who wears a mask at all times when outdoors. “The other day I had my viva exam, and the examiner asked me to remove my mask while answering her questions as she wasn’t able to hear me properly,” Joseph shares.

“I see many people have stopped taking precautions, and often turn up without a mask, even in the Metro,” shares Rachit Bose, a student of BA (Hons) Economics at Kirori Mal College, adding, “I’ve got used to wearing a mask, since the time I saw the pandemic peak. But those who aren’t following rules, I feel, are no longer cautious of Covid-19. They need to understand that vaccination can only help them fight it, but it’s better not to get the virus in the first place.”

Some have become selective about masking up. “If I’m going to a crowded place then I’ll wear a mask, but if the social distancing is possible, such as in office, then I prefer to keep myself away from others if I have to remove my mask. I visit office only when extremely important to be present in person. Otherwise, I prefer to work from home,” says Sahil Bhatt, a techie.

Elaborating on such behaviour, Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, a physician and infectious diseases specialist, says that now the risk is known and somewhat predictable. He shares, “Any behaviour that requires individual response needs to come from people. That’s why when we make masks mandatory, it doesn’t help. We can see people on the streets wearing masks, but they might not be the ones who need protection. So, rather than making it universal, it should be calibrated and context specific.Two years ago there was no vaccines, it was unpredictable and unknown. Now 90-95% have developed natural protection. India has a very good vaccination rate. Virus is in all setting, when cases were low and when they were rising.”

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