Wearing masks made mandatory in Maharashtra for six more months

Published : December 21, 2020 15:03 IST

A healthcare worker conducting swab tests at the Dadar station in Mumbai on December 3. Photo: Emmanual Yogini

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced on December 20 that wearing masks would be mandatory in the State for six more months although he was not in favour of imposing another lockdown or imposing a curfew at night.

But a day later, he was forced to backtrack on one of those promises. The Maharashtra government imposed night curfew for Mumbai and other major cities in the State from December 23 to January 5. The curfew will be from 11p.m. to 6 a.m.

The decision was forced on the government because of the mutated strain of the novel coronavirus that has emerged in the United Kingdom. Despite the temporary ban on flights from the U.K.,  it is learnt that the government is wary of the passengers who have landed in the last few days.

Maharashtra still has the highest caseload of COVID-19 cases. There are presently around 63,000 active cases and the death toll is 48,700.

Thackeray also said that the COVID-19 pandemic was under some control because people were wearing masks and following the norms of social distancing and hand hygiene. “People have followed what I advised. We have control over the coronavirus situation. Almost everything has been opened up. But it is my duty as head of State of Maharashtra to ask everyone to be cautious. There have been some winter-related diseases. Masks and social distancing will help us to avoid these diseases. We will all have to wear masks for the next six months,” he said.

COVID-19 protocol fatigue has begun to set in and the number of people wearing masks has decreased greatly. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) imposes a fine of Rs.200 each on people caught without masks but the fine does not seem to have had an impact on the ground. According to the BMC, from April until November 30, it has taken action against 4.85 lakh citizens for not wearing masks and collected Rs.10.7 crore in fines.

In Mumbai, wearing masks is mandatory while using transport. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport company has removed the usual advertisements on the side panels of its buses and carries the message ‘Mask nahi, pravesh nahi’ (No mask, no entry’) now. Bus conductors and drivers have the power to refuse entry to passengers not wearing masks.

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