In amongst all the big announcements this morning (October 27) around Melbourne’s easing restrictions and who can see who, when you can visit mates, and when we can expect the regional border in Victoria to be rolled back, Premier Dan Andrews answered a burning question – how much longer will mandatory face masks be in place?
When asked to give his best guess on how long Victorians will need to be wearing masks, Andrews said he reckons it’ll be best practice for the rest of the year and into 2021 – at least until the public health department deems it safe to remove the mandatory mask ruling.
“We’ll be wearing masks until at least the end of the year, and into next year,” he said.
“We will be able to move away from it, and may be able to have more flexible settings where you don’t have to wear it quite as often, but that isn’t for today.”
Andrews expressed that he understands how frustrated the mask-wearing rules are, but stressed that wearing face masks in public is going to be essential as the travel between metro Melbourne and regional Victoria opens back up again.
“Masks need to be with us across the whole state for some time to come,” he said.
“I know it’s frustrating. I know that no-one particularly enjoys wearing a mask. There are some exemptions that I think are appropriately cast. But at the same time, it is a very low price to pay for potentially a very significant benefit.”
He also maintained that Victorians need to not only wear face masks for the time being but also to wear them properly and seriously in order to protect themselves and everyone around them.
As for wearing face masks when visiting others in the new in-home gathering rules, Andrews recommended people keep their masks on inside, but accepted that authorities can’t check in on every house in the Melbourne region.
“I fully acknowledge that we can’t police certainly hundreds of thousands of households,” he said.
“But it’s really a choice for hundreds of thousands and millions of households if you make a good choice, the smart choice, then you can be certain that you’re playing your part in not having only got the numbers low, but you’re playing your part keep the numbers low so you can have visitors, we can be back at work, we can be open, and opening further as the weeks and the months unfold.”
And as a little refresher, fitted masks have been mandatory while in public for all Victorians since October 11, with some exceptions. Anyone found not wearing a fitted mask (which does not include snoods, gaiters, bandanas, or face shields) can be fined $200 per offence.
I mean, we’ve done so many months of mandatory face masks and learning how to live with them, what works best, and where to get them from, so what’s another couple of months, hey.