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Face masks not a must in Maha; DDMA lifts penalty for not wearing them in public places

Face masks not a must in Maha; DDMA lifts penalty for not wearing them in public places

New Delhi: With the Covid cases declining significantly over the past few weeks, several states have decided to lift all the pandemic-related restrictions, including the mandatory wearing of face masks.

Maharashtra, one of the worst-hit states, and West Bengal on Thursday announced that all curbs related to the viral disease would be lifted, while Delhi decided to do away with the mandatory wearing of face masks in public places.

The withdrawal of the COVID-19 curbs came almost two years after the pandemic struck in March 2020. It is expected that some other states may follow suit in the coming days.

At a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal, it was decided that there will be no fine for not wearing face masks in public places in the national Capital, officials said.

They added that the DDMA, however, is likely to issue an advisory for people, asking them to use masks in crowded places. Currently, there is a fine of Rs 500 for not wearing masks in public places in Delhi.

The decision to lift the restrictions in Delhi was taken at a meeting attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, Chief Secretary Vijay Dev and senior officers of the departments concerned.

With a rise in the number of Coronavirus cases in December last year due to its Omicron variant, the Delhi government had imposed several restrictions. Those curbs were lifted gradually when the situation normalised and finally, they were removed from February 28. However, the rule related to wearing of masks in public places, including in buses and Metro trains, continued.

Delhi reported 113 fresh Covid cases and no death due to the viral disease on Thursday, while the positivity rate stood at 0.49 per cent, according to data shared by the city health department.

In Maharashtra, the state government announced that all Covid-related curbs, including the wearing of masks, would be lifted from April 2.

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Health minister Rajesh Tope told reporters.

"From Gudhi Padwa (Marathi New Year which falls on April 2 this time), all COVID-19 related restrictions under the Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act will be withdrawn," Tope said. Wearing of face mask will be voluntary from April 2, he said.

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