The warning is stern and the punishments spelled out. If Bhutanese are found violating the lockdown protocols and thereby threaten the safety of the community and the country, the law is going to come down hard on them.
This follows several cases of violations where one had contracted the disease and had been visiting places including outside his zone, even if one wonders how he managed to do that. All this happened when more cases are detected everyday with Thimphu averaging 13 new cases a day, including from the community.
The measures are not desperate, unlike many think. They are the need of the hour. Not to generalise, but the people asked for it.
We have, so far, taken the soft approach. The Prime Minister and the Sowai Lyonpo had been pleading, almost on a daily basis, with the people to follow rules. Every press briefing concluded with them requesting people to help them contain the disease by helping themselves.
We have failed to do that even after understanding that the disease is much about human behaviour. There was no protest against the measures put in place, but many chose to ignore and refuse to adopt behavioural public health interventions – of wearing face mask, physical distancing or not crowding. Now we are given what some call the behavioural medicine.
Our complacency stemmed, perhaps from our success in containing the virus. With the right leadership, guidance and the sacrifices of those who are on the frontline, we managed, for a long time, to prevent a full-blown community transmission.
It has happened now and we need to step up our guards. Changing our attitude would be crucial in this fight. The lockdown, as it seems, is going to be in place for a long time, at least in Thimphu and Paro. How long restrictions would last is partially in our hands. Our attitude and behaviour or the non-pharmacological measures is key in fighting Covid-19.
From the current situation, we cannot expect returning to normal anytime soon. In fact, what we call the new normal would be the normal for a long time, at least not before all of us are protected through a vaccine.
Those who breach lockdown regulations knowingly and create conditions including spreading a dangerous disease, in this case, Covid-19, and endangers the safety or health of the public, could be booked for criminal nuisance and other provisions with prison terms ranging from three and five years.
Given the complications related to the virus, the chances of getting booked with fourth degree felony is high as one could spread the disease unknowingly or without testing positive. It had happened.
The best way to not come into conflict with the law is being law-abiding citizens.