Breaching safety protocols must be considered criminal

Non-observance of public order seems to be increasing by the day. There are two ways to look at this problem. Our monitoring systems, particularly in the border areas, are weak. If that’s not true, our surveillance systems have improved by leaps and bounds.

Either way, we have a problem. And it is a serious problem. Phuentsholing drungkhag court’s decision to sentence 28-year-old man to nine years in prison for trafficking of 78 capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon Plus (SP+) illegally is, therefore, highly appreciated.

According to Section 410 and 411(b) of the Penal Code of Bhutan, a defendant is guilty of the offence of criminal nuisance, if the defendant knowingly or recklessly creates or maintains a condition, including spreading of a dangerous disease that injures or endangers the safety or health of the public. The offence is graded as fourth degree, which is between three and five years.

So long as Covid-19 prevails, we have got to bolster our initiatives to keep our people and the country safe. If stricter measures are required, so be it. Occasional reckless acts could become a new normal and that is dangerous. In a sense, we are fighting a war on two fronts.

As we fight the pandemic that threatens to spread rapidly, it is important that we do not become complacent. There is a kind of fatigue that’s begun to set in among the people. This is natural but we cannot take the chance. Local Covid-19 positive case can be disastrous for a small society like ours.

We have done well so far but we cannot bask on our successes. The threat is ever present. We can ill afford to let things go. Disturbing developments must be nipped in the bud. Quickly trodden must be small fires.

If people are found sneaking in and out of the borders, they should be penalised heavily. And likewise, if the people breach safety protocols, they too should face the full force of the law. There have been many positive developments in this direction recently. We must ratchet up our surveillance and safety systems.

In the kind of emergency that the nation is facing today, any violation of national safety protocol must be considered criminal.

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