The federal government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and all state and territory leaders ahead of an emergency national cabinet meeting, urging them to reinstate mask mandates for indoor settings.
The push for better health measures comes as NSW recorded a next level 3057 cases overnight.
Kelly said mandates need to come back before the number of Omicron cases rise too high.
“Implementation of mask-wearing measures should occur prior to Omicron case escalation to have maximum benefit,” he wrote.
“Masks should be mandated in all indoor settings including retail, hospitality when not eating or drinking, and entertainment facilities.”
The mask advice was written on behalf of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to the national cabinet.
Last night it was announced that the national cabinet would convene for an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the plan of attack to curb the spread of Omicron. The national cabinet was not due to meet again until February.
The outbreak began in NSW and has since been fast and furious spreading interstate and causing significant spikes in cases in QLD and SA.
The national cabinet will also discuss booster shots, with some experts and groups including the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) pushing for the wait time to be cut.
They will also discuss the definition of “fully vaccinated”, and whether a third booster shot will be mandated and included in that definition.
Kelly is definitely not the first to question the easing of mask-wearing requirements by state governments.
In the face of two dozen new cases a mask mandate in many indoor settings was brought back in QLD at the weekend.
Last week a leading epidemiologist roasted the NSW government on The Project for its decision, saying it “doesn’t make sense and it’s not based on any scientific evidence, that’s for sure.”
“I don’t know anywhere else in the world that has relaxed mask mandates in the face of Omicron. It doesn’t make any sense at all, and most jurisdictions have been increasing mask mandates,” Professor Nancy Baxter said.
Today cases jumped from 2,501 to 3,057 — a new record for any jurisdiction in Australia.
Victoria’s numbers have remained stable, dropping slightly from 1,302 yesterday to 1,245 today.
???? Victoria #covid19vic
1.86% positive test rate
392 hospitalised (-14)
73 ICU active (-8)
— Anthony Macali ???? (@migga) December 20, 2021
Morrison is telling all the state leaders to be “calm and consistent” about interstate travel and Christmas messaging, but the power still rests with them to decide on border closures and restrictions.
At a press conference on Monday he said it was “very important we get some clearer certainty about what arrangements are” with the airline and travel industry.
“Australians need to know that if they are going to get on a plane and get somewhere, they can get off at the other end, they can do what they want to do, and return home.”
But he also said it masks “should be” a choice, regurgitating his favourite libertarian nonsense about Australians being sick of governments being somehow too involved in their lives — whatever the fuck that means coming from our PM.