Premier Daniel Andrews has extended Victoria’s state of emergency until August 16, with strict new rules on masks coming into place that requires all residents of Metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire to wear a mask.
On a day when Victoria recorded another 363 new cases of coronavirus and three deaths, Andrews held a press conference to announce that the new mask rules will come in to effect from 11:59pm on Wednesday, 22nd of July.
As ABC reports, the Premier said that “common sense” would be used in implementing the rules around masks, meaning that people in situations like going for a run or visiting a bank will be exempt from wearing masks.
But almost everyone else within the lockdown zone will be required to cover their face “whenever practical”, except for teachers (while teaching and children under 12, or 12-year-olds attending primary school).
“It doesn’t come at an enormous cost to the Victorian economy,” Mr Andrews said. “It still allows us to go about our business, particularly those who can’t work at home and for going shopping for the basics when you need them.”
Breaking: Andrews says masks/face coverings will be *mandatory* for "everyone in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire" from 11.59pm Wednesday night
"I need not be a hospital-grade mask… It can be a scarf, it can be a homemade mask"
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) July 19, 2020
Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos revealed that the decision to enforce mask-wearing comes after consultation with the Chief Health Officer, “given that we continue to see rising case numbers, increasing numbers of people being hospitalised and sadly also increasing fatalities.”
There are now also increased restrictions on visitors to hospitals, and aged care facilities which have been the centre of multiple clusters within the state in recent weeks.
Meanwhile north of the border NSW recorded 18 new cases of COVID-19, prompting the government to urge people to avoid non-essential travel and gatherings. The number of cases is the highest recorded in three months, and three of those recorded “have no identified links to known clusters”
It follows a recent announcement from Premier Gladys Berejiklian that from next Friday, bookings at restaurants, pubs and similar will be restricted to 10 people. Home gatherings are still allowed to occur with a 20 person limit, but government officials have recommended that people stick to a 10 person maximum.
“People are urged to avoid non-essential travel and gatherings,” said Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jeremy McAnulty.
“Of particular concern is transmission in venues such as hotels and restaurants, the gym and social gatherings. We are calling on people across the state to take extra care and follow these steps.
In addition, from Monday the number of overseas arrivals allowed into Sydney will be capped at 350 per day (and they’ll have to pay for their own hotel quarantine). “Our number one priority is the health and safety of the people of NSW, and this new cap will help us protect our state from COVID-19,” said Premier Berejiklian.