From midnight on July 22, Victoria will become the first Australian state to make mask-wearing mandatory, as the community spread of the CCP virus shows little sign of slowing. Residents caught not wearing a face cover can expect a $200 (US$140) fine.
In a press conference on July 19, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that it would be mandatory to wear a mask in Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.
The announcement came after he revealed that there were 363 new cases and two more deaths due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus. Another 275 cases were recorded on July 20.
The lockdown of Greater Melbourne will end on Aug. 19, after six weeks. However, Andrews revealed that Victorians could be forced to wearing a mask for “many many months,” with it possibly becoming a nationwide regularity he said.
Andrews said there were some exemptions to the new rule.
“For example, those who have a medical reason, kids under 12 years of age, those who have a professional reason or if it’s just not practical, like when running—however, you will still be expected to carry your face covering at all times to wear when you can,” said Andrews.
Teachers are also exempt from wearing a mask while teaching but VCE, VCAL students or those at school for onsite supervision will have to wear one. Likewise, everyone will be have to wear one on the way to and from school.
A mask also doesn’t have to be worn if you are driving alone or with someone from your household.
But face coverings are required if you are transporting people outside the household, or if conducting deliveries.
Previous government public health guidelines in March said that if people felt well, they should not wear a mask.
However, new findings from the Peter Doherty Institute have said that mask-wearing can help reduce the spread of the virus from people who are not showing symptoms.
As confirmed by Professor Sharon Lewin, masks have different functions depending on if the person is unwell or not. For healthy people, wearing a mask for a long time was seen as unnecessary.
“We’ve known for a long time that if you wear a mask for a prolonged period, they don’t work as well.”
Lewin says new evidence shows that asymptomatic people could still spread the CCP virus to others, meaning greater precautions are needed.
“But the only way to deal with that is universal mask-wearing, so all of us wear a mask because we don’t know whether we’re infectious at any point in time, and that has changed dramatically,” she said on Nine’s Today Show.
“We have much better evidence, just over the last two to three months that this does work.”
Lewin is confident that numbers will start to stabilize now that ten days have passed since the lockdown of Greater Melbourne and Mitchell shire.
“Any time you introduce an intervention with attacking this coronavirus you don’t see the result for about seven to 10 days which makes things very tricky,” she said.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is also urging Sydneysiders to wear masks as new COVID-19 cases also continue to rise.