The Maharashtra government on Thursday decided to withdraw all Covid-19 restrictions imposed under the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act in the state from Saturday, when Gudi Padwa – the Maharashtrian New Year — will be celebrated.
While the government advised the people to follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour, wearing a mask is no more mandatory but has been made optional.
The decision will pave the way for grand celebrations of upcoming festivals such as Gudi Padwa, Ramzan, Ram Navami and the birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, among others.
The decision of lifting all restrictions was taken in the state Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who issued instructions to the administration to issue an order in this regard immediately.
“Gudi Padwa is the beginning of the new year. This is the day to start a new work by keeping aside the old one. For the last two years, we have successfully battled the deadly coronavirus, and today it seems to be fading. To make a fresh start, the restrictions imposed during the corona period under the Disaster Management Act as well as the Epidemic Diseases Act are being completely lifted from Gudi Padwa (April 2),” said Thackeray, in a statement issued by the CM secretariat.
He, however, added that to prevent future outbreaks of Covid-19, people need to wear masks, follow social distancing and get vaccinated. “People should take care of themselves and others by following Covid-appropriate behaviour,” said Thackeray.
Sources in the government said that the restrictions could be imposed again in case there is an increase in Covid-19 cases in the state.
As per the presentation made by the health department before the Cabinet, 1,024 Covid-19 cases have been reported in the state between March 24 and 30. Of these, 697 cases have been reported in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmednagar, Thane and Buldhana. The remaining 327 cases have been recorded in the rest of the districts.
As of March 29, there are 960 active cases in the state. While 189 patients are admitted to the hospital, 771 are asymptomatic.
Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that with the Cabinet decision to lift all restrictions, rules like mandatory double vaccination and wearing of a mask no longer apply. “But this doesn’t mean people should be complacent… they need to be careful. Although it is not mandatory to wear a mask, people are advised to wear masks wherever they can to take care of themselves and others… so, we can celebrate upcoming festivals with full enthusiasm,” he added.
Tope further said that countries in the US, UK and Europe have already become mask-free. “But we have made it optional. The decision has been taken by the chief minister and all others in consultation with the task force and the health department,” he added.