Scott Morrison has been criticised for refusing to call for states and territories to reimpose mask mandates despite a soaring number of Covid cases across the country.
During a press conference on Wednesday afternoon following an emergency National Cabinet meeting, the prime minister repeatedly urged Aussies to wear a mask, but stopped short of directing premiers to make it mandatory.
“They’re actually already doing it,” he said, referring to a large portion of people he saw wearing masks during a trip to NSW earlier in the day.
“What matters is the behaviour and the behaviour to change and the behaviour to wear those masks in [public] settings.
"So premiers will make calls about what’s the best way to encourage people to do that. Some like to use mandates, others like to use that encouragement and rely on the individual responsibility to achieve that.
"What matters is that people wear them, not whether people get fined or not."
When asked if the government was working toward a national consensus about mask-wearing, Mr Morrison doubled-down on his advice.
"Again, wear a mask in an indoor setting. You don’t need to be forced to do it. It’s a very clear message — wear a mask," he said after comparing the move to having to mandate people to wear sunscreen and hats in summer.
"Think of the person sitting on the other side of the table from you. Think of the person you’re going to meet this weekend. Think of Christmas Day where you’ll see elderly relatives."
PM criticised for comparing mask mandates to sunscreen advice
Many frustrated viewers have taken to social media to vent their annoyance at the Mr Morrison’s comments, deeming it a "new low".
"So, is it just me, or has ScoMo actually said anything new after the National Cabinet? It’s the same story as before — no mask mandates, no change to booster timeline," an ABC journalist tweeted.
"Essentially ScoMo has decided to do nothing," another woman wrote.
"Just turned the presser off because ScoMo has just reached a new low… seriously??? He is going to allow people to get sick and die when it can all be prevented. Just to preserve Xmas or should I say the annual bbq and piss-up," she continued.
Just turned the presser off because #scummo #scovid #scomo has just reached a new low... Seriously??? He is going to allow people to get sick and die when it can all be prevented. Just to preserve xmas or should I say the annual bbq and piss-up.
— Jade Manly (@jade_manly) December 22, 2021
"So ScoMo has just said the LNP is taking the new highly-contagious Covid-19 seriously, but no mask mandate. NSW government has canned QR codes and no one has to show a vaccine certificate. So my immune compromised wife has to rely on the ‘personal responsibility’ of others," one man added.
Others took aim at the prime minister’s comparison of Covid to skin cancer.
"Comparing masks to sunscreen as medical advice is pathetic — you can’t infect people with skin cancer if you don’t use sunscreen," another frustrated viewer said.
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