Problem with Victoria's new coronavirus face mask rules emerges

·News Reporter
·3-min read

A top epidemiologist has questioned whether jogging in Melbourne should be allowed as the city remains in lockdown due to coronavirus restrictions.

The state brought in a rule on Thursday, requiring people to wear face masks when out in public to stop the spread of COVID-19 or face a $200 fine.

But Premier Daniel Andrews has told people in metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire residents don’t have to wear masks while jogging, so they can breathe easier while performing strenuous exercise. They do have to have a mask on them though.

However, people walking in public need to wear one.

People wearing face masks walk past a sign advertising masks in Melbourne.
A Melbourne woman wears a mask before the mandate came in. Source: Getty Images

“The chief medical officer’s feedback [is] it would be very challenging for people to run while they’re wearing a mask,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Thursday.

“Some people will be able to do it and if they can, fine, but if they can’t they can have their jog, have their run and carry the mask with them and wear it before and after.”

‘We want them to stay safe’

Professor Catherine Bennett, chair in epidemiology at Victoria’s Deakin University, told Yahoo News Australia while health authorities wanted people to still exercise “we want them to stay safe, even when exercising outdoors where transmission risks are lower”.

A woman is seen jogging along the Yarra River in Melbourne.
Joggers in Melbourne, like this woman seen at the Yarra River, aren't required to wear masks. Source: AAP

“Joggers have been identified as one group where masks may not always be practical, and masks are likely to get wet during heavy workouts and therefore are likely to be less protective,” Prof Bennett said.

“It makes sense that there will be less risk of spreading or contracting the virus given runners are moving very quickly when they pass other people outdoors.

“However, runners are also more likely to be breathing heavily, and therefore should avoid running too close to the runner in front, and should overtake quickly.”

Coronavirus is believed to be spread via droplets from the mouth.

When asked by 3AW “should joggers wear a mask or be exempt” if she was in charge, Prof Bennett said: “If you can’t wear a mask jogging, then you’d have to ban jogging”.

People are seen wearing face masks in Melbourne.
Anyone not wearing a mask in public in Melbourne could be fined $200. Source: AAP

Prof Bennett added she understood some people might have trouble jogging with a mask on and for a lot of people it was their only source of exercise.

She added to Yahoo News Australia if joggers could not wear masks they should also avoid busy areas where there was pedestrian traffic “and should give a wide berth to people they are following or overtaking”.

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