From today onwards, everyone in Victoria aged 12 or older must wear a face mask indoors at workplaces, schools and pretty much anywhere else outside the home where you can’t stay 1.5m apart from one another.

The new rule was suddenly announced quite late on Wednesday night, and it comes after a handful of new cases and exposure sites have been identified in and around Melbourne this week.

“There are steps we can take right now to protect ourselves and each other,” Victoria’s Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Clare Looker said in a statement late last night.

“Wearing a face mask will be mandatory indoors (not at home) unless an exception applies – this includes all workplaces, and secondary schools.”

In addition to these indoor spaces, Victorians must also wear a mask at outdoor spaces where you can’t socially distance, such as at busy markets.

Naturally, however, the rules don’t apply to your own home.

The recent spate of locally-acquired cases in Victoria stems from two separate groups – a family and some furniture removalists – who went from Sydney to Melbourne.

So far over 70 exposure sites have been listed in and around Melbourne. Anyone who has visited Tier 1 and Tier 2 sites, as well as anyone with symptoms, is being urged to get a COVID test immediately.

As for everyone else, it’s up to us to get vaccinated if and when possible. Under 40s can speak to their doctor about getting the safe and effective AstraZeneca vaccine, and you can also triple-check to see if you’re eligible for the Pfizer vaccine here.

Hopefully the Victorian government has moved swiftly enough with restrictions like this to keep the situation under control.

Image: Getty Images / Darrian Traynor