COX'S BAZAR: World's longest unbroken beach, which looked like a desert and playground for seashells and crabs, abounds with tourists once again. But none cares about health rules prescribed for protection against the coronavirus-the pandemic that had upended normal order wreaked havoc here, too.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists are coming to visit the sea resort after a ban was lifted amid a respite from the scourge that had held people in home confinement for a long time. The government has imposed various conditions on these tourists, including compliance with the health-hygiene rules.
Tourists appear indifferent towards wearing masks or following hygiene rules even though the district administration and tourist police are miking about awareness. They appear extremely reluctant to maintain social distancing or wear masks. They are giving hundreds of excuses.
Sourav Dev, who came from Mohammadpur in Dhaka, said he came with a mask. "Now I will go down into the water so I threw it away. If you put it in water, the mask will get wet. I will buy one again later."
Taufiqul Islam, from Mirpur in Dhaka, was found fully reluctant about mask-wearing. I got annoyed while staying at home, so I rushed in to Cox's Bazar. Now no one is following the rules of hygiene or the use of masks," he says.
Meanwhile, at Laboni, Sugandha and Kolatoli points of Cox's Bazar beach thousands of tourists have flocked. They are sitting on the beach, in the water, in the dunes and in the kitkat, rejoicing and cheering.
Restrictions are things of the past, to them, though the pandemic still hangs on.
Some people use masks but throw them in the sand dunes of the beach. Hundreds of used masks were seen littering the sands.
Saifullah Sifat, in-charge of C-Save Life Guard, says: "We encourage tourists to wear masks as well as lifeguards to prevent coronary infections." But the tourists who come to the beach wearing masks use those masks and leave them on the beach.
"That's why the beach dunes are getting dirty. I still try to remove the used masks from the dune and throw it in the dustbin. In this case, tourists need to be aware."
Mukhim Khan, general secretary of Cox's Bazar Kolatoli Marine Drive Hotel, Motel and Resort Owners' Association, said the resort had been closed for five months last year due to the Covid-19. This year, too, it was closed for about four months.
"Without getting a chance to make up for last year's loss, our losses in the lockdown are again equal to the mountain. Unable to bear the loss, the employees had to be laid off. I hoped I could make up for that loss. But, in the beginning there were a lot of tourists but now there is no tourism as expected," said.
Cox's Bazar Hotel, Motel and Resort Owners Association General Secretary Abul Qasim said that all the conditions given by the government are being complied with. "It is not our responsibility to see if the tourists on the beach follow the hygiene rules."
All the hotels and motels in the tourist zone in Cox's Bazar are booking rooms for tourists in compliance with the hygiene rules. However, there are no tourist arrivals as before.
Cox's Bazar Zone Additional Superintendent of Police Mohiuddin Ahmed said that members of the tourist police are on duty at the beach every day. Earlier, only security was provided, but now miking, patrolling, miking on beach bikes and leaflet distribution among the tourists are being done to make them aware of the additional responsibilities.
Many tourists come to the beach especially on weekends. They are all new. It is everyone's responsibility to make everyone aware of corona hygiene rules.
Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md. Mamunur Rashid said, "Tourists flock to the beach on weekends. With the winter season ahead, tourist arrivals will increase further."
Regular campaigns are being conducted to make the tourists aware to prevent Covid-19 infections. It will continue unabated.