₹6.25 Lakh Fine for Hosting a Wedding. What’s the Penalty for Queueing Up Carelessly Outside Zara?


₹6.25 Lakh Fine for Hosting a Wedding. What’s the Penalty for Queueing Up Carelessly Outside Zara?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

India’s number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, but its citizens seem to be downplaying the threat of the pandemic. This Saturday, a viral video surfaced on Twitter of long queues, allegedly outside the Zara store in Mumbai’s Fort. Though many of the gathered people were wearing masks, there was very little respect for social distancing. In a line that went from the storefront around the street corner, people stood in groups, huddling together like Covid-19 takes weekends off.

On Monday morning, Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced that the state would remain in partial lockdown until July 31. The announcement comes a day after he warned that he’d reimpose the lockdown if violations continue. If only that sense of urgency trickled down to the citizens as well. The irresponsibility seen outside the Zara store was also displayed last month by Mumbaikars who thronged to a Starbucks outlet at the first rollback of lockdown restrictions.

The repeated flouting of safety guidelines by citizens is making government authorities pursue strict action against offenders. On the same Saturday as the Zara queue debacle, in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara, a man was fined ₹6.25 lakh for hosting his son’s wedding with over 50 guests earlier in June. After the function on June 13, 15 guests developed coronavirus symptoms and one person died. The strict fine levied against the man who organised the function could hopefully serve as a deterrent to others thinking that they are above safety measures.

Even Mumbai’s authorities have clamped down. On Monday morning, as the lockdown extension until July 31 was announced, the city saw massive traffic jams as police halted the vehicles of people travelling more than two kilometres from their homes without a valid reason.

While these penalties might seem harsh to some, gambling with public health and safety for selfish reasons like shopping or wedding functions is no laughing matter. Staying home can be tough, but it’s vastly superior than queuing up outside hospitals, and people would be well served to remember that.