Although the scenes are not pleasant, the insouciant behaviour of a section of urban residents has invited them. It is their aversion to wearing Covid-19 prevention face masks which has prompted the health and law enforcement authorities to deploy mobile courts in the cities. It's a task which has been long overdue. The campaign to cherry-pick the defaulters should have started functioning during the corona pandemic's 7-month prevalence. Perhaps due to lack of sufficient manpower, the mobile court operations were confined to Dhaka in the initial phase. Lately, all large, mid-level and small cities and towns have been brought under the ambit of mobile courts, each led by an executive magistrate. Now that the mobile court operations all over the country are in full gear, conscious citizens feel relieved.
The anti-Covid-19 mobile courts are different from the others in their nature and modus operandi. The courts led by a magistrate and accompanied by police, as well as health officials, are in essence coaxing people into abiding by an elementary health guideline: wearing masks. It is the wilful and arrogant defaulters who are fined with amounts suiting their ability. Lots of people without spare money in their pockets are allowed to go without being fined. But they are warned of 'real punishments' upon being caught without masks in the future. The mobile courts also distribute the nose-and-mouth covers for free among the repentant and poorer segments of people. Directives on wearing coronavirus-preventive masks and monitoring their compliance by the people from all social strata have lately become an international norm. Campaigns launched by sections of overenthusiastic rights activists, in the US in particular, not to wear masks have fuelled widespread disapproval in their own countries. Many see these people indulge in their reckless activities at their peril. However, the sensible sections in society have not failed to take precautionary measures. The spectre of a dreadful comeback of the global scourge may not spare arrogant communities this time around. Meanwhile, a few European countries have imposed stricter lockdowns as they brace for a second wave of the pandemic.
The developed countries, in general, do not feel the need for engaging their 'mobile courts' for sensitising people to the dangers of moving unprotected. The citizens are conscious enough, and are aware of the fact that a negligent way of life may invite serious health hazards. The vigilance implemented by the authorities in charge of different public places and transport modes is too stringent to violate by even compulsive rule-breakers. It's the least developed countries in particular who are prone to defying the orders meant for public welfare. In a country like Bangladesh, getting away with non-masked movement in the open is still easy. The days of freedom appear to be drawing to a close before a second wave of the ongoing pandemic strikes the country.
An all-out operation by mobile courts for taking the errant people to task is in place. With their strike reaching even the remote parts of the country and the busting of factories producing substandard masks and other preventive tools, this time the nation is set to emerge fully prepared to face the pandemic. The world is in a race against time to invent effective vaccines to prevent the Covid-19. Prior to such a vaccines' easy and wide availability, it's the wearing of masks and abiding by health guidelines which are expected to create a bulwark against the pandemic. In these tasks, increased public awareness has no substitute.