To draw attention to the continued need for wearing face masks despite the lifting of lockdown, PM Narendra Modi in his speech on Tuesday said that the leader of Bulgaria was fined Rs 13,000 for not wearing one.
PM Modi sais that Indians had become more relaxed with following social distancing guidelines and mandatory wearing of face masks as the country entered Unlock.
“India was doing better than several countries in dealing with coronavirus, the timely lockdown and other restrictions have saved the lives of lakhs of people. But we are witnessing a certain carelessness in individual and social behavior ever since the beginning of the Unlock 1 phase,” the PM said.
Earlier in June, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was fined 300 levs ($174) or the equivalent of Rs 13,000 for violating an order to wear a protective face mask during a visit to a church on June 23.
On June 22, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev had ordered Bulgarians to resume wearing masks again at all indoor public venues after the Balkan country last week recorded its highest weekly rise in novel coronavirus cases. And the PM's transgression was not taken lightly.
Not just Borissov, journalists, photographers and camera people who accompanied him into the church without masks will also be fined, the ministry said.
Citing Borissov's example, PM Modi said that wearing masks was essential even as cases continued to rise despite the lifting of lockdown in India. He also said that authorities needed to implement the wearing of masks with similar zeal and dedication as shown in Bulgaria.
Recently, authorities in Delhi implemented a Rs 500 spot fine on persons seen outside their homes without wearing a mask.
"Nobody is above the rules, whether it is the head of a village or the country in India," the PM added.
Apart from reminding Indians to wear masks, Modi also told the nation that the government will extend the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana to provide free ration to 80 crore poor till the end of November.
"Keeping in mind all the festivals that are coming up in the next few months, this scheme to provide 80 crore people with 5 kg free ration and 1 kg dal per month will now be extended till Diwali and Chhath Puja, or till the end of November," he said.
(With inputs from Reuters)