[We Care, We Share] Inspiring story: Safeguarding Public Spaces

 

 

 

We Care We Share

 

A UN Bhutan’s initiative for resilience tools for COVID-19

 

Safeguarding Public Spaces

 

Pushpa owns a shop in Olakha. After more than 6 months, he decides to go to the bank to deposit his savings. He steps out of the taxi and walks towards the bank. Suddenly he is stopped by one of the security guards. “Sir you are not allowed to enter without a face mask” says the guard.

 

Pushpa is not aware of this new rule. He looks at the guard, as if to ask for leeway but the guard stands firm in his decision.

 

Chimmi Rinzin is 28 years old. He has been a security guard for the last 4 years. From hotels, hospitals and banks, Chimmi is now the second in charge security person at the Bhutan National Bank in Thimphu. Due to mandatory safety measures put in place by the government in light of COVID-19, Chimmi and his colleagues are now fully engaged in implementing and monitoring such measures.

“Before the pandemic, our duty pattern was very different from what it is today. Now with all these cautionary measures, our duties have heightened and are no different than the frontline workers. I not only see this as my duty but as a social responsibility that we must all adhere to,” says Chimmi.

 

In most public spaces like banks and hospitals, one cannot enter without following the three procedures: have a face mask on, undergo a quick temperature check and register the location QR code with the Druk Trace app at the entrance. If customers do not have the app, they are asked to share their contact details. Such mandatory practices help identify, keep track of movements and maintain a safe environment within busy public facilities. Suraj Rai is a 19 year old security guard. He is newly recruited and carries an infrared thermometer which looks like a gun. He slowly points it at Pushpa’s forehead. It reads 35.9 degrees Celsius.

“We do not let anyone inside without a facemask. We have a stall where we sell facemasks to those without them. Not only customers, but even the bank staff are required to follow the procedures,” says Suraj.

 

Suraj asks Pushpa to scan the Druk Trace QR code and informs him to purchase a facemask, which is readily available near the entrance. There is also a small makeshift water tap, liquid handwash soap and a bucket used as a sink near the QR code scanning table. A large hand-washing guideline chart is glued on the bucket.

“Ever since these preventive practices were introduced, we feel that our roles have more responsibilities. People are aware of our duties and they have been very cooperative. It encourages us to perform better and carry out our roles with more integrity and dedication,” says Suraj. Chimmi nods in agreement.

 

Pushpa feels his hemchu for his wallet and takes it out. He pays the man who hands the facemask to him. Pushpa enters the bank and finds several red lines and boxes drawn on the floor, indicating and guiding customers in queues and seats.

 

As Pushpa leaves the bank, he meets Chimmi and Suraj again, this time he smiles at them behind his facemask.

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