The administration in Madhya Pradesh's Indore district has lifted the ban on the use of "rumaal" (handkerchief) and "gamchha" (cotton towel) as masks as a precaution against COVID-19, following objections from citizens and leaders, an official said. Indore, which is the one of worst-hit districts in the
country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, has been given limited relaxations during the lockdown with the resumption of few economic activities.
As per an order issued by district collector Manish Singh on Friday night, it was obligatory for people to wear surgical masks when they step out of their homes within the limits of the district, the official said.
The use of handkerchief, towels etc will be prohibited and not be included in the category of masks, the order had stated.
According to officials, this order was issued under the Pandemic Diseases Act 1897 and National Disaster Management Act 2005 in a bid to protect common people from COVID-19.
However, BJP MP from Indore Shankar Lalwani told PTI that after learning about the order, he had approached the district administration and requested them to change it in public interest.
"Gamchhas are convenient for most people and can be used as a precautionary measure against contracting the infection. Many are already using it to protect themselves from the sun," he said.
Several people took to social media to raise objections about the order, claiming that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using "gamchha" to protect himself from COVID-19.
Following these objections, the district collector changed the order, lifting the ban on the use of "gamchhas" and handkerchiefs as masks.
According to the revised order, people will now be able to use different types of masks, including towels and two-layered handkerchiefs when they step out of their homes.
The district collector also stated that a spot fine of Rs 100 will be imposed on people who don't wear protective gear on their faces.
Fines ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 will be collected on the spot from heads of commercial institutions, offices etc, if employees don't wear masks at workplaces, the order stated.
According to official information, Indore has so far reported 3,431 COVID-19 cases and 129 deaths.