Fitted face masks are now mandatory in Victoria

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Fitted face masks are now mandatory in Victoria

Scarves, bandanas and face shields are no longer acceptable.

On Sunday Premier Daniel Andrews revealed that from today, Monday September 28, Melbourne will be moving to step two on the government’s road map to reopening, with the easing of a raft of restrictions that virtually shut down Melbourne due to the deadly second wave.

Changes for Metro Melbourne include:
– The lifting of the curfew, which has been in place from 9pm to 5am in Melbourne
– Up to five people, from a maximum of two households, will now be able to meet outside, in a public place
– 127,000 workers can return to various industries, including supermarket, food distribution, food processing, manufacturing and some solo outdoor employees, will return to work – about 30,000 more than initially planned.
-Primary school students return to schools in the week beginning 12 October.
-Childcare centres can open for all children
– Visitors will be allowed in healthcare facilities and hospitals – one visitor per patient per day for a maximum of two hours for most patients. For those under 18, two parents or carers can visit with no time limit.
-Hiking, fishing and other exercises that don’t involve visiting a facility will be allowed for a maximum of two hours, within 5km of home.
-Private inspections can resume for real estate
-Weddings can take place with up to five people
-Apprentices and uni students in their final year of study will be able to attend on-site for learning and assessment where necessary
Changes to workplace rules so that 127,000 people can return to their jobs
-Elective surgery will be ramped up to 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels

In conjunction with the easing of restrictions, the state would increase fines for breaching rules about gatherings to almost $5,000.

There was one more announcement worth noting in regards to face masks. While the mandatory face masks won’t be going anywhere any time soon, there are new requirements on the type of coverings that are allowed.

From today, scarves, bandanas and face shields will no longer be considered acceptable face coverings in Victoria, and people will need to wear a fitted face mask that covers the nose and mouth when outside their homes. There will be a grace period on enforcement, to allow people still missing face masks to acquire one.

“With more people moving across the city, our public health team have advised the rules around wearing a mask need to be strengthened,” the premier said. “As I’ve said before, wearing a face covering is a small sacrifice – but it makes a huge difference in keeping all of us safe.”

Anyone seen wearing a bandana, shield or scarf risk a fine for breaching coronavirus public health measures. At present in Victoria, anyone not wearing a mask when outside the home for a valid reason or with an acceptable exemption is subject to a $200 infringement.

However, the premier’s official statement regarding face mask rules does conflict with that of the DHHS, which implies that bandanas and scarves are still acceptable but face shields are not.

The changes were announced after Victoria recorded another 16 cases, and the number of active cases fell below 400 for the first time since 14 June. The two-week rolling case average for new coronavirus cases in Melbourne has fallen to 22.1, well below the stated aim of between 30 and 50. The average is just 0.6 for regional Victoria.

Andrews also revealed that “trigger points” for the next steps out of lockdown would no longer be defined by dates in the calendar. Instead the move will be dependent on case number targets which, he said, could see the next step for restrictions reached by October 19.

You can read the Premier’s statement here.