Dubai: With malls, parks, beaches, restaurants and other public places reopening, the need for residents to wear masks is more pressing now than ever amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Yet, not everyone who is out wears a mask, and not everyone who wears a mask, wears it right. Either way, Dubai Police have confirmed that they are liable to pay a Dh1,000 fine.
A Dubai Police official told Gulf News: “People should wear masks in the proper way when they go outside. Otherwise, they face a Dh1,000 fine.”
A look around public places reveals different scenarios, with the masks hanging below people’s noses, further down their mouths, around their necks, held in their hands, strapped on to their arms, even tucked inside trouser pockets.
“The masks are everywhere other than where they should be,” said a morning jogger P.D. Singh on MBR Boulevard in Downtown Dubai. “So many people wear the masks loosely around their faces. For them, it’s a mere formality. If they happen to get caught, all they will perhaps need to do is move the mask into place.”
Another resident, on the condition of anonymity, said, “It is very suffocating to wear the mask all the time, especially when you are out for an hour or more. I get this strong urge to pull the mask down my nose for a breath of fresh, unobstructed air.”
Why are the masks not in place?
Dr Salvin George, Specialist Internal Medicine from Medcare Hospital Al Safa, likens a person carrying a mask but not covering his nose and mouth with it to a biker holding a helmet in hand and riding.
He said, “People are still not used to the idea of wearing a mask. They struggle with it because some masks are not well-fitted. A good mask will sit well when you secure or press the metal piece on the bridge of your nose. You need to do that before you put on the straps over your ears. It prevents the mask from sliding down.”
According to the doctor, the incomplete fit also interferes with conversations. “When people with a loose fitting mask start talking, the mask gets pulled down, so they are constantly trying to pull it up. Somewhere along the line, they get frustrated and pull it down.”
Among the other factors, he said, is the poor quality of some masks which makes them hang loosely on the face. “These poor quality fabric masks lose their stiffness within a couple of hours and makes it difficult for the wearer.”
The doctor, however, dismissed claims that it is difficult to breathe easily with a mask. “Tight-fitting N-95 masks worn by healthcare professionals may cause concern at times, but otherwise it is more psychological,” he said.
He said there is no excuse for not wearing a mask when it has been made mandatory. “There is nothing unhealthy about wearing a mask, whether you are exercising or otherwise. The mask actually protects you. Everyone must wear the mask because it can protect the community by preventing the transmission of the virus.”
Dubai Police have urged residents to wear their masks in the right way when they go outside or face a Dh1,000 fine.
An official said: “People should wear masks in the proper way when they go outside.”
If they are in a car, they need to wear masks while driving with other passengers as part of the precautionary measures, he said.
According to Dubai Police, 10,286 fines have been issued against residents for failure to wear medical masks or maintain a physical distance between March 26 and April 16.
A warning fine is issued as a warning preceding the fine. The fine is levied if the offence is repeated.
“We issued warning fines at the beginning so that people wouldn’t claim they didn’t know about the order,” the official said.
“If a person doesn’t comply with the order, then the actual fine will be issued,” he added.