Coronavirus Victoria: Face masks mandatory with 363 new cases

Victorians will now have to wear face masks or cop a hefty fine to stop the spread of coronavirus as the state recorded 363 new cases.

Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Sunday masks would be mandatory for people living in metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 11.59pm (local time) on Wednesday.

Anyone failing to do so will face a $200 fine.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said people in Metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will need to wear face masks. Source: AAP (file pic)

“I hope that not one single fine needs to be issued,” the premier said.

“That is my genuine hope and I think that if people just use common sense.

“Masks or face coverings, a homemade face covering whether it be a bandana, a scarf, a mask, no matter what grade that mask is at, is better than no face covering at all.”

He added people should show “common sense” and not wear a face mask while, for example, going inside a bank.

People are seen wearing face masks while shopping at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia.
A man wears a face mask while shopping at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne last week. Source: Getty Images

“That universal commitment if we all do things like this, we will stop the spread of this virus,” Mr Andrews said.

“We'll get to the other side of this second wave quicker and we will prevent more tragedy.”

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said children under 12 did not need to wear masks.

Victoria’s death toll rises to 38

Mr Andrews said three Victorians died from the virus in the past 24 hours. They were two men in their 90s and a woman also in her 90s.

“We send our best wishes to the families of those three individuals,” Mr Andrews said.

“This will be a particularly sad and challenging time for them and we send our love and support to them.”

A medical worker speaks to people queueing outside a COVID-19 coronavirus testing venue at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.
People wait for testing outside The Royal Melbourne Hospital. Source: Getty Images

State of emergency extended

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said Victoria’s state of emergency had been extended until August 16.

“That decision has been made acting on the advice of the chief health officer, given that we continue to see rising case numbers, increasing numbers of people being hospitalised and sadly also increasing fatalities,” Ms Mikakos said.

“And today we have seen a further 20 Victorians being hospitalised and sadly a further three lives lost and I want to express my condolences to each of those families as well.”

Concern over case numbers

Victoria recorded 363 new cases on Sunday following 217 reported on Saturday.

Professor Sutton was asked what he thought about numbers continuing to decrease and increase.

“It is concerning,” he said.

Prof Sutton said this fluctuation was why the government was implementing the new masks measure.

“We're not going to wait for numbers to decrease. This is something that we should be doing now, regardless,” he said.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton speaks to media in Melbourne, Australia.
Victoria's Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said case numbers were concerning, but we were yet to really see results of stage-three restrictions. Source: Getty Images, file

Prof Sutton added the stage-three restrictions in Melbourne Metro and Mitchell Shire had not been in place for a fortnight yet.

He added the restrictions were “pretty robust and will make a difference”.

“So, I think there's still an opportunity to see those numbers drop,” Prof Sutton said.

“But in a sense, these settings that amplify transmission are our new target and I think we are addressing transmission between homes and within homes.

“But we have a new target here, and a lot of the new numbers today will be related to those settings that we're trying to get on top of with a new intervention.”

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