All is mostly well and it is fine for the masks to come off from April 2, with the state government approving the lifting of all Covid restrictions on Thursday.
Finally, people can go back to life as they knew it in pre-Covid times, given the fall in cases in Maharashtra. So, go ahead and celebrate Gudi Padwa, Ramzan and the birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar with added joy.
The state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, on Thursday unanimously approved the lifting of all Covid restrictions from Gudi Padwa, which falls on Saturday, April 2 this year. Maharashtra has become the first state to make the use of masks in public places optional. The government has withdrawn the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act, which were invoked in March 2020 in the wake of the surge in Covid cases, following the outbreak of the pandemic.
The cabinet decision also means that all shopping and market complexes, cinema halls, malls, multiplexes, restaurants and bars, sports complexes, gyms, spas, swimming pools, wellness centres, beauty salons, places of worship, drama theatres (‘natyagrihas’), tourist places, entertainment ment parks and so on can operate at 100 per cent capacity. There will be no restrictions on inter- and intra-state movement and on commuting in public transport, including railways.
All offices, including government and private, can function at full capacity. All industrial and scientific institutions can function at full capacity. There will be no curbs on gatherings – social, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious, political and festive events, weddings and funerals and on competitive sports events, both indoor and outdoor. As of Thursday, there were only 902 active Covid cases in the state, with 183 new cases and one death being reported, and a fatality rate of 1.87 per cent. “Gudi Padwa is the beginning of the new year. This is the day to embark on new projects.
For the past two years, we have successfully battled the deadly coronavirus, and today, the scourge seems to be fading. To make a fresh start, the restrictions imposed during the corona period under the Disaster Management and the Epidemic Diseases Acts, are being completely lifted from Gudi Padwa (April 2),” said Thackeray.
On behalf of the Cabinet, he wished the people of the state a happy Gudi Padwa. However, he advised people to wear masks, keep a safe distance and get vaccinated against corona to keep the infection at bay. He also appealed to the people to take care of themselves and others by following the health norms. He directed the administration to issue detailed orders in this regard immediately. Thackeray also thanked all the frontline staff, including doctors in the state, who have been working relentlessly in combating the virus for the last two years, and also all the citizens for their unwavering support to the state government in the fight against the coronavirus.
Throughout this period, people from all religions and sects in the state kept their festivals, celebrations and ceremonies limited and observed restraint. The chief minister expressed gratitude to the police, municipalities, revenue and rural development agencies and the administration as a whole for fighting the pandemic day and night and thanked them all.
Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the decision to withdraw all curbs was taken as per guidelines from the Central government and after consultation with the Covid taskforce. “The CM and cabinet decided that from April 2 (Gudi Padwa), the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act will be withdrawn,” he informed.