Maharashtra drops masks from April 2. The state, which suffered the worst from COVID, will say goodbye to all pandemic-related restrictions from Saturday as the state welcomes the Hindu New Year. The use of masks will be advised, but it will not be compulsory, the state government said. With the state abolishing rules that made wearing masks mandatory, the question is will citizens use face masks — acknowledged as the best protection against COVID-19 — if there is no penalty for not wearing them?
Doctors said that given the downward COVID-19 graph in Mumbai, Maharashtra and India, there is unlikely to be a spurt in cases just because some people didn’t use a mask.
Dr Mukesh Batra said “We have struggled to manage COVID for over 2 years. There have been many restrictions during this time that was necessary. Since most of the population has been vaccinated adequately, it’s about time that we go back to living normal lives. While it may not be mandatory to wear masks, it is still strongly recommended and is one way to keep us safe, not just from another round of COVID but also from respiratory ailments.”
RTI activist Anil Galgali said, “Masks were not used everywhere in the country except Maharashtra. Now the state has made Maharashtra mask free and it is welcome. However, if a person has some ailment, it will be convenient for them to wear a mask for their own benefit and thus the infection will not spread.”
State health minister Rajesh Tope said the compulsory mask rule was done away with after consultations with experts. “We are not saying don’t wear a mask… Wearing a mask will now be voluntary. We are appealing to the public to continue to follow all Covid-appropriate behaviour,” said Tope.
Dr Anshuman Manaswi said, “The decision to relax wearing of the mask as a compulsion is a right decision because there are hardly any cases anywhere. Obviously, the decision can be reviewed if and when the cases rise again. Although in crowded places, wearing a mask is a healthy thing. It will decrease the transmission of any communicable disease. It will also help in fighting pollution better. Overall, it has inculcated a good habit in us because of Covid and we can use it judiciously for our benefit in future.”
Virendra Shah, a pharmacist said, “May does not Wear at home or in the personal cabin but it is suggested that while moving in the masses ideally better to continue with maybe with reusable mask also washing hands and using sanitiser, especially in hospital should be must for next 6 months.”
Dr Parag Telang said, “A lot of people will be happy that masks are no longer mandatory. But please avoid going to crowded places without a mask. The risk of Corona is still lurking in many parts of the world. Let’s not be complacent.”