Not wearing a mask will no longer attract a fine in Delhi, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority said in a formal order today – a day after Maharashtra and Bengal decided to do away with Covid-related restrictions. The order will be effective immediately.
While the DDMA did not officially say masks are no longer mandatory, the removal of the existing Rs 500 fine has effectively made masks optional. The DDMA, however, has advised people to continue the use of masks in crowded places.
The DDMA had made the decision yesterday, at a meeting chaired by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. The decision was made in view of a drop in coronavirus positivity rate as well as vaccination of a large section of the population, sources had said.
The Centre had earlier advised the states and Union territories to consider discontinuing the Covid containment measures in view of a sharp decline in the number of fresh cases of the infection in the country.
Delhi had imposed a large number of restrictions when the third wave of the pandemic started earlier this year. But as the number of infections dropped, the restrictions were gradually eased. From today, schools in the national capital have gone offline
The fine for not wearing a mask -- imposed first in 2020 and hiked to Rs 2,000 later that year as the pandemic spread -- is the last one to go. The fine was cut from Rs 2000 to Rs 500 in February this year.
Over the last 24 hours, Delhi reported 131 fresh cases of Covid-19 with a positivity rate of 0.57 per cent and one death. The new cases brought up the national capital's Covid figure to 18,65,101. The number of fatalities stands at 26,153.
Even the number of patients in home isolation has fallen significantly over the last few weeks. As of February 1, the total number of home isolation cases stood at 12,312, while it was 332 on Friday, read a bulletin from the health department.
There are 9,753 beds for COVID-19 patients in Delhi hospitals of which 58 are occupied.
The Covid figures have been on a slow slide after touching the record high of 28,867 on January 13 during the third wave driven by the super-infectious Omicron variant.
A day later, the city recorded a positivity rate of 30.6 per cent -- the highest during the third wave.
Yesterday, Maharashtra, Bengal and Telangana also dropped the compulsory requirement of masks in public places.
"All COVID restrictions in Maharashtra will be lifted, as we bring in the new year this Gudi Padwa!" read a tweet from the handle of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's Office, referring to the spring festival to mark the Marathi New Year.