As the country gets ready to celebrate Diwali, only 2 per cent of Indians think that masking compliance around them is effective, while only 3 per cent feel that people in their localities and districts are following social distancing norms, according to a survey.
The survey conducted by LocalCircles, a digital community-based platform, received more than 39,000 responses from over 20,000 citizens in 366 districts of India on how people are complying with masking and social distancing protocols during the festive season and travel.
Forty-seven per cent of respondents were from tier 1 districts, 30 per cent from tier 2 districts and 23 per cent from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. While 65 per cent of respondents were men, 35 per cent were women.
On the masking front, the survey found that only 2 per cent of respondents said that “more than 90 per cent” people in their area, district or city are compliant and only 16 per cent respondents said that masking compliance is effective at airports, stations and bus stands, etc. during travel.
According to a survey conducted by LocalCircles in September, 13 per cent of citizens felt that masking compliance in their area, district or city was high, while 30 per cent of respondents felt that masking compliance during travel was effective.
In the latest survey, just 3 per cent of respondents said that social distancing compliance is effective in their area, district or city and 9 per cent of respondents said that social distancing compliance during travel is non-existent now.
According to the September survey, 6 per cent of respondents had said that social distancing compliance in their area, district or city was high. The survey had not measured effective social distancing compliance during travel.
A LocalCircles survey from June, which was shared by the Union health ministry in its July 6 briefing, had found that 29 per cent of people felt that masking compliance around them was effective, while 11 per cent felt that social distancing compliance around them was effective.
“The drop in masking compliance ratings from 29 per cent to 2 per cent and in social distancing compliance ratings from 11 per cent to 3 per cent indicates that the vast majority of Indians believe that masking and social distancing compliance are practically non-existent in most of the country,” said Sachin Taparia, founder of LocalCircles.
Similarly, on the travel front, social distancing compliance is extremely poor with many citizens raising complaints on LocalCircles about the poor enforcement of social distancing norms at security check, boarding and in buses at airports like Delhi and Mumbai, he said.
According to the LocalCircles’ report, with Diwali markets, fairs and private parties being held in cities, stepping out and socialising are back with fervour.
The report also stated that authorities should not bring large numbers of people together for Diwali fairs, as has been reported in a few states. Authorities like Airport Authority of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Railways must ensure compliance of social distancing norms at airports and stations.
Special focus must also be on creating awareness and ensuring compliance of masking and social distancing protocols in tier 3 and 4 towns and rural districts where it is at near-zero levels, it said.
The last thing India wants at this stage is a third wave of COVID-19 sparked by the irresponsible behaviour of the public at large and encouraged by the lax approach of authorities, the report said.