India’s Maharashtra state to lift mask mandate after steep fall in COVID-19 cases

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India’s richest state Maharashtra, home to the country’s financial capital Mumbai, will make wearing masks optional from April 2 after a steep fall in the number of active cases and deaths from COVID-19 in recent days.

The wearing of masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus had previously been mandatory in all public places in the state.

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“Wearing masks (will) not (be) compulsory but people can wear one if they want,” Maharashtra’s health minister Rajesh Tope said on Thursday.

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All restrictions on spaces including hotels, weddings, gyms and buses, and a requirement to be double vaccinated in order to enter public places, will have been lifted by April 2, Tope said.

India has administered at least 1.84 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that is enough to have vaccinated about 67.3 percent of the country’s population, according to the Reuters COVID-19 tracker.

“This will help people in celebrating upcoming festivals,” Tope said.

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