Coronavirus Victoria: Premier flags more restrictions if masks fail

Ash Cant
·4-min read

Premier Daniel Andrews has warned if Victorians fail to comply with a new face-mask requirement there could be a harsher lockdown.

To combat the spread of the coronavirus, residents aged over 12 years old in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will be required to wear face mask or covering every time they leave the house from 11.59pm (local time) on Wednesday.

Failing to not wear a face mask will result in a hefty fine and could mean stage-four restrictions.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews arrives in a face mask to speak to the media during a press conference in Melbourne.
Victoria has recorded another 363 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths. Face masks will soon be compulsory. Source: AAP

The face covering does not need to be a medical mask, it could a homemade alternative, like a scarf of bandana, Mr Andrews said on Sunday as he also announced 363 new cases of coronavirus and three deaths.

The premier said if “high degrees” of compliance were observed then people would not be restricted to only exercising or shopping within their postcode.

“We don't want to get to those steps, if we have to, we will,” he said.

“But the next step in our fight against this virus is for everybody to be wearing masks when they're out for those four permitted reasons.”

Since the cases started to surge in Victoria, it has been speculated the state could enter a stage-four lockdown, and that is still a possibility at this time. Victoria’s Australian Medical Association has called on the Andrews government to consider these restrictions.

“There will be a $200 fine if you were out and were not wearing a mask,” Mr Andrews said.

For the next 14 days, the government will monitor the data – including compliance and community transmission – and assess whether or not to move to stage-four restrictions.

Getting groceries or essential items, providing care or receiving healthcare, and work or study are the only reasons Victorians living in hotspots are allowed to leave their homes for, failing to do so will result in a fine.

“I hope that not one single fine needs to be issued. That is my genuine hope,” Mr Andrews said.

People wearing face masks on Melbourne's Bourke Street on Sunday, July 19, 2020.
People are seen wearing masks in Bourke Street in Melbourne on Sunday. Source: AAP

Who is exempt from wearing a face mask in Victoria?

However, there are exemptions to the rule.

“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,” Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services warns.

Teachers will not need to wear a face covering while teaching, however “students attending for VCE, VCAL or for onsite supervision will, while everyone will be expected to wear one on the way to and from school”.

Over the coming days, the state government will provide advice to Victorian industry and unions.

As for regional Victoria, it is recommended people wear face coverings when keeping a distance of 1.5 metres from others, and regional Victorians visiting metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire will have to wear a mask of sorts.

Up to three million face masks are on order by the Victorian government with a batch of 300,000 due to arrive this week, Mr Andrews said.

Opposition leader Michael O'Brien said the premier needed to make sure masks were available "quickly" and "affordable" to Victorians.

A tram driver is seen wearing a mask in Swanston street in Melbourne, Sunday, July 19, 2020.
Victorians living in the lockdown zones can only leave their homes for four reasons and will soon need to wear a mask when leaving their house. Source: AAP

About 80 per cent of new cases since mid-May are linked to workplaces prompting an inspection blitz, Mr Andrews also announced.

The crackdown will target at-risk Victorian workplaces which includes distribution centres, call centres and meat-processing centres.

Due to the high risk of transmission in aged care and health from July 22, visitation will be restricted to carers – and only for an hour per day.

Aged care staff will be also be able to get free testing, even if they don't have symptoms, the state government added.

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