With the emergence of the new variant of coronavirus, Omicron, many people have started keeping masks with them following the new restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. But instead of wearing the mask over the mouth and nose, people have been pulling them down under their chins or around their necks. Some even simply tuck the masks in their shirt pockets.
The cabinet division of the government on Monday imposed several restrictions to prevent the spread of Omicron. Directives were issued, making it compulsory for everyone to wear masks in public places. This directive comes into effect from today, Thursday.
At around 11:00am on Thursday, it was seen at the Mohammadpur bus stand that most of the bus drivers and their helpers were not wearing masks. Some of the drivers had pulled these under their chins or had taken them off and were chewing paan (betel leaf) or smoking cigarettes. The helpers had their masks in their hands, waving and summoning passengers.
Sumon Miah, a bus driver of Midland Paribahan on the Khilgaon route, said, "You can't wear the mask for too long inside the bus and so I have taken it off."
Some of the drivers had pulled these under their chins or had taken them off and were chewing paan (betel leaf) or smoking cigarettes. The helpers had their masks in their hands, waving and summoning passengers
His helper Rahman Ali was also without mask. He said, "I can't call passengers if I have a mask on. If I call out or move my mouth, the mask shifts around and so I have simply taken it off."
It is the same with the passengers. Many of them were not wearing masks. When asked why they weren't wearing masks, many pulled their masks out of their shirt or pant pockets.
On a trip from Mohammadpur to the Shankar bus stand in Dhanmondi on a bus of the Gulistan route, it was seen that 17 of the 39 passengers were not wearing masks. Of them, 13 had their masks under their chin on hanging around their necks.
Four didn't have any masks at all. One of them was Solaiman Kabir, a trader of the Simanta Square Market. He told Prothom Alo, "I left my mask behind when I left home in a hurry. I have masks in the shop and will put a mask on there." He said he always keeps a mask with him normally.
Hashem Ahmed, a bus driver of Ramzan Paribahan on the Malibagh route, also was without any mask. Two women passengers towards the front of the bus were also not wearing masks. One of them had her mask around her neck. They were unwilling to reveal their names, but one of them explained why she wasn't wearing a mask, "I cover my mouth and nose with my scarf and so I don't need a mask."
While it is compulsory to wear masks in shops, shopping malls, markets, hotels and restaurants, many people are simply not bothered.