General concern about COVID-19 extremely low

Volunteers say they are having a tough time enforcing the safety measures

With the adoption of the new normal from July 1, the general public who had never been too bothered about safety measures has turned even more negligent about the rules. 

Desuup Volunteer at Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL), Sonam Jamtsho said people scan the QR code and use the mask only when asked to. “We do not let them enter if they are without a facemask,” he said. The volunteers also found people pretending to scan through their camera phone and some without the internet. “But we made them scan if they are caught.”

The security guard at the Bank often complains about people not adhering to the rules “but we try our best to make sure that people at least use a facemask and scan the QR code.”

More problematic is the scenario at the Centenary Farmers Market (CFM) where the general public does not understand what is asked of them. A Desuup at CFM, Pema Yangzom said some individuals listen to them while others refuse. “Few reply that they do not have money to buy facemask,” she said.

Individuals who do not have Druk Trace app are asked to register in their logbook but they get annoyed or display arrogance. If they do not adhere to the measures, she reports to the coordinator of Desuups at CFM. Some customers and sellers are also seen not using the mask when they are inside and when they see Desuups approaching, they hastily start using it.  “Some rationalize that they are feeling hot while using a facemask while some say they have an allergy,” said Pema Yangzom.

Pema Yangzom feels that people who do not pay attention to the measures should be penalized as they do not seem to understand that the safety rules will benefit them.

Another Desuup said that when they act tough it feels like they are harassing people.

Desuup Coordinator at CFM, Kinga said individuals who rebel are reported to the police. Three to four cases were reported to the police. He said all the cases were solved by the police within the office at CFM. “However, it is not only the illiterate people who do not follow the rules here at CFM but the educated ones, too.”

A shopkeeper above CFM said people are not serious about the use of facemask and Druk Trace app. “We also get busy with work and forget to inform people to scan the QR code and we also don’t feel empowered to ask people to wear a facemask,” he said.

Meanwhile, taxi drivers and customers are also not serious about safety measures. A regular taxi driver, Sangay Dorji said people have become desensitized to the scare of the pandemic. “Though the government has informed its citizens to wear a facemask while traveling in a taxi, passengers rarely use it. Earlier they used to scan the QR code but no one is taking the trouble to do it now,” he said adding that they cannot use force on passengers.

Tenzin Lhamo from Thimphu