Face masks will be made mandatory in regional Victoria from Sunday

Face masks will be made mandatory in regional Victoria from Sunday

It's time to mask up.

Today, Victoria has recorded 723 new coronavirus cases, marking a new daily record, almost 200 cases higher than the previous record of 532 cases recorded on Monday, bringing the total number of cases recorded in the state since 1 January to 9,998.

It is also the deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with 13 new deaths recorded overnight.

Australia only hit 10,000 cases nationally 16 days ago, on 14 July.

Due to these new cases, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews today has revealed updated information for regional Victoria.

Andrews said that from midnight on Sunday, everyone in regional Victoria will have to wear a mask or a face covering whenever they’re out of the home.

That means face masks will be mandatory across Victoria, with the same exceptions that currently apply in Victoria.

“It’s something we can do in regional Victoria without causing significant economic cost, but getting a really significant public health benefit.”

Andrews said there were low numbers of active cases in regional Victoria “and we want to jealously guard that”. There are now 4,516 active Covid-19 cases in metropolitan Melbourne and just 255 in regional Victoria. Most of those cases in regional Victoria, 159 of the 255, are in a corridor from Geelong across the Surf Coast.

Alongside the mandatory face masks, from midnight tonight, people in Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Colac Otway, and Queenscliff are not able to have visitors in their homes.

Residents in these areas can still visit restaurants and cafes, attend community sport and visit gyms.

“We want to keep those numbers low. These are preventative steps, they’re an abundance-of-caution approach, if you like.

“It will be inconvenient for some, but at the end of the day, keeping those numbers very, very low is about protecting public health, protecting vulnerable people, protecting every family, but also protecting the economic benefits that also come from having regional Victorian case numbers very low.”

While masks do not eliminate the aerosol effect that occurs when wearers speak, cough or sneeze, they act as a barrier which not only reduces the volume of droplets expelled into the air, but decreases the distance these particles travel from metres to inches.

In countries such as China, Korea and Japan, wearing a mask in public to stop the spread of germs when suffering from a cold or flu is considered common courtesy. You wouldn’t cough or sneeze without covering your nose and mouth, so armed with new information about how easily we can spread infections, COVID-19 could become the catalyst for normalising the use of face masks in Western societies.

This was reflected in a press conference with Victorian Premier Dan Andrews when he said the enforced use of face masks will remain in place, “so long as they can make a difference”.

“I think masks are going to be a feature not just of this second wave, but they will be a feature of preventing a third wave and everything that comes after that,” he added.

If you’re still looking for a face mask, you can find a list of local producers here.