The Tamil Nadu government on Saturday directed district collectors to strictly enforce the government norms on wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing to help break the COVID-19 transmission chain and retain the status of a model state in COVID-19 control efforts. In the process, the collectors could levy penalties on those violating these norms at marriage halls, workplaces and other public places. The state government had earlier announced penalties for health protocol violations such as not wearing masks
Pointing to the lack of discipline among the public for not using the masks and maintaining physical distancing in recent times, Chief Secretary K Shanmugam pointed to studies and observations, showing mask compliance is less than 30% in the state. "In many public places, including markets, shopping malls, marriage halls, social and religious gatherings, the COVID-19 etiquette and standard operating procedure (SOP) are not being followed strictly," he said in a letter addressed to the Collectors.
A large number of persons gathered without masks and thus created an environment of super-spreader of COVID-19 and thus endangered the safety of other people.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has instructed the collectors to enforce strict discipline in the marriage halls or such places, and as a deterrent, even resorts to the closure of such premises that violate the SOP he said in the letter, a copy of which was made available to the media in the state.
Individuals who are found not wearing masks and also the owner of marriage halls and parties who organise marriages but not observing SOP should be penalised, if needed, to enforce strict discipline, it said.
Similarly, SOP will be enforced in shopping malls, workplaces, factories and shops as well.
The Chief Secretary also asked the district collectors to bring down the positivity rate below 2% through focused testing, reduce the death rate to zero and concentrate on post COVID-19 management through awareness campaigns.
As per the latest health bulletin, Tamil Nadu has 11,073 active cases with 1,430 people testing positive on Saturday. The total number of persons positive till date is 7,79,046.