The Delhi High Court has mandated wearing a mask even when someone is driving a car alone, terming any vehicle a “public place”.
The court said that the mask is safety armour (“suraksha kavach) for the person wearing it and those around.
The decision was announced by Judge Pratibha M Singh while hearing petitioners who had contested against penalties for not wearing a mask while driving alone.
“Even if you are alone in the car, why object to wearing a mask? It is for your own safety,” the judge said. “The pandemic crisis has increased. Whether a person is vaccinated or not, they should wear masks.”
This is the barest minimum one could do to stay protected from Covid, added advocate Singh. She also quoted advice from scientists and governments worldwide.
The court said when a car stops at a traffic signal, drivers often have to roll down their window. “The coronavirus is so contagious that even in that time, anyone can be infected,” it said.
The three petitions also include a lawyer who approached the court challenging a ₹ 500 fine he was forced to pay when he was driving alone without a mask and was stopped by the Delhi Police.
During hearings, the Union Health Ministry had told the Delhi High Court that there was no rule that a lone driver had to put on a mask. But, at the same time every state had the right to make its own rules and enforce them, the ministry had said.
Meanwhile, Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government wants masks for all in private or public vehicles and had also passed such an order in April last year.