ISLAMABAD - Deputy Commissioner (DC) Hamza Shafqaat on Sunday said face mask would be mandatory in public places from today, aimed to combat COVID-19 spread.

Talking to media, DC Islamabad said violators would face penalties, adding, in line with a decision taken by the Federal Government, the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) on Sunday declared that all residents had to wear a face mask in public places.

To ensure that everyone had access to masks at an affordable price, Shafqaat said that they were controlling it under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). He warned the violator could be jailed too depending on the severity of the flouting of social distancing protocols and precautionary guidelines.

“We have to protect people from coronavirus second wave which can be done only if shopkeepers, restaurant owners, vendors, transporters and other business owners follow the SOPs devised by the government,” he said.

“We have sealed around 50 schools, hotspot areas, hotels, streets and fined where the citizens were not following their SOPs,” said DC.

He said while giving surprised visits we also have been distributing masks among general public and shopkeepers to raise awareness of the virus threat among masses, adding, people should at least wear masks indoor places.

He said that fines and six month arrest would be against those found violating the Standard Operating Procedures.

Hamza warned of second coronavirus wave which could hit stronger than before and the situation might become worse if precautionary measures were not adopted.

He further said teams were monitoring and implementing strict of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and extensive c contact tracing would be carried out in these streets and adjacent areas.