Face masks likely to be made compulsory in Maharashtra if COVID-19 cases rise

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has said there is no need for making face masks compulsory in the state as of now, but if there is an increase in new COVID-19 cases, then face coverings will be made mandatory.

Mr. Tope was speaking to reporters in Aurangabad on Saturday, when Maharashtra reported 155 new coronavirus cases, as against 148 on Friday.

“The figures are growing in small spaces which is alarming. Hence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi (recently) held a meeting with chief ministers of states and told them to be on alert. As of today, there is no need for restrictions. But, if the cases go up, we will have to impose restrictions and make masks compulsory,” he said.

Mr. Tope said they have currently decided to “wait and watch”.

“We need to pay attention to the vaccination against COVID-19 in the age group of 12-14 and 15-17 years. There are some challenges in this as schools are now closed. If any protocols are issued by the Centre for the 6-12 years age group, we will implement them at a fast pace,” Mr. Tope said.

The minister also said that though the vaccination is not mandatory, “we have to show people the advantages of getting inoculated and convince them to take the jabs”.

Maharashtra had done away with all the COVID-19 related restrictions on April 2 on the occasion of Gudhi Padwa, the Marathi New Year.

However, Mr. Tope had then urged people to wear masks voluntarily to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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