Recent images from hill stations and city markets – of large crowds of tourists without face masks and people failing to practice social distancing – are a “cause for concern”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday, as he underlined the need to follow Covid safety protocols.
Addressing a virtual meeting of chief ministers from the eight northeastern states, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of adhering to basic rules – wearing of face masks when in public, avoiding large gatherings, and ensuring vaccination – to prevent a third wave of COVID-19 cases.
“It is true that tourism, business and business have been greatly affected due to coronavirus… but today I will say very emphatically that it is not okay to have huge crowds in hill stations and markets without wearing masks,” Prime Minister Modi said.
“The virus does not come and go on its own… we bring it with us when we disobey the rules. Experts are warning us repeatedly that careless behaviour – like overcrowding – will lead to an increase in Covid cases,” he added.
The Prime Minister highlighted a three-fold response that will be key to combating the spread of the novel coronavirus. This includes, he said, following Covid safety protocols and ensuring that everyone is vaccinated against the virus.
The Prime Minister’s comments come as a flood of videos and images were shared on social media over the past few days, showing massive crowds at hill stations like Manali in Himachal Pradesh.
The posts led to alarm among experts, with many criticising the behaviour of the tourists as reckless, just after the devastating second wave that killed over two lakh people.
Last week the Health Ministry, during a scheduled Covid briefing, warned people against failure to wear masks and follow social distancing, saying: “… the infection always spreads faster in crowded places… if we are irresponsible and don’t follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, it can spread.”