Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that there is no need to wear masks in the state as there is no more coronavirus. The BJP leader made the comments amid the ongoing Assam assembly elections and at a time when India is seeing a steep rise in coronavirus cases. He said that if the situation takes a turn then he would impose strict orders to wear masks.
"Mask ki zaroorat nahin hai. Nahin hai toh nahin hai ab mai kya karun? (mask is not need. If it is not needed then it is not needed, what do I do?)" he said in an interview with The Lallantop. When reminded that the central government has been constantly reiterating the importance of mask-wearing, Sarma said, "Central government apna nirdesh de lekin in the context of Assam aaj ke din mein COVID-19 yahaan nahin hai." (Central government must order people but in the context of Assam, there is no COVID-19 currently.)
When pointedly asked if wearing masks is not required, Sarma said, "Kyun bekaar ka panic create karein? Jab hoga, tab mai bata dunga logon ko ke aaj se pehno. Abhi humein economy revive karna hai. Ab mask pehnenge, toh parlours kaise chalenge? Beauty parlours bhi chalna chahiye." (Why create unnecessary panic? When there will be coronavirus, I will tell the public to wear masks. We need to revive the economy now. If you wear masks, how will parlours run? Beauty parlours also need to run.)
Sarma said that he has told the public that this is interim relief. If cases surge then they will need to wear masks again or they will be fined Rs 500. He said that people have been saying that there will be a rise in coronavirus cases after the BTC (Bodoland Territorial Council) elections but nothing happened, they are saying the same for Assam elections but nothing will happen. The health minister said that not only elections, Assam will also celebrate Bihu in a grand way. He said that he is sure nothing would happen then also.
When asked if he has consulted experts, Himanta Biswa Sarma said, "Zaroorat nahin hai". (It is not required) He added that people have suffered for a year, and now it is not required to push them back to the same situation. Sarma said that Assam's economy has been growing at 18-19 per cent.
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