Mumbai, March 31
In a major decision, the Maharashtra government has decided to lift all Covid-19 restrictions exactly two years after the coronavirus pandemic curbs were clamped, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said here on Thursday.
From April 2 — the Maharashtra New Year day — the provisions of the stringent Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act, enforced in March 2020, shall no longer be implemented in the state.
Accordingly, there will be no curbs on public movement, social, religious or political gatherings, weddings, funerals, visits to malls, cinemas, shopping plazas, hotels, restaurants, swimming pools, gyms, sports activities, travelling by trains, buses or other public modes of transport, to and from workplaces, parties, picnics, vacations, etc.
The decision was taken unanimously at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Thackeray this afternoon in view of the huge decline in Covid-19 cases as the third wave is on its last legs after four months.
However, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has recommended physical distancing and voluntary wearing of face-masks as a precaution, though there will be no penalties for defaulters.
Ministers and top Leaders of the MVA allies, Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress like Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Eknath Shinde, Anil Parab, Dilip Walse-Patil, Jayant Patil, Prof. Varsha Gaikwad, Aslam Shaikh and others warmly welcomed the move.
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leaders like Atul Bhatkalkar, Ram Kadam and others also lauded the decision but some termed it as 'belated'.
Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad said that with the state becoming free of restrictions, people can celebrate Gudi Padva and Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti with processions and the upcoming holy month of fasting Ramzan in full swing.
It may be recalled that the state had gone into a lockdown on March 24, 2020, followed by the nationwide lockdown, and after the first few months of stringent restrictions, the curbs were lifted in stages during the first, second and third waves.
Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that while visiting crowded venues, it is advisable to wear face-masks and Minister of State for School Education Omprakash alias Bacchu Kadu said school students must continue with face masks as a precaution.
Commoners across the state greeted the government step heartily and expressed relief that now they would not be subjected to arbitrary fines, penalties or cases for flouting the Covid-19 norms, and can freely move around anywhere at any time without any fear as they did prior to March 2020.
It may be recalled that Maharashtra remains the worst-hit in the country notching 78,74,024 cases in the past two years and a staggering 147,783 deaths — higher than countries like France and Iran.