Victoria becomes final state to scrap mask mandates for public transport


Victoria is the last Australian state to end its mask requirement on public transport.

The state continues to recommend mask-wearing, but calls lifting the mandate “a sensible step to ensure national unity.”

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Face masks will no longer be required on public transport, taxis, ride-sharing services and tourist vehicles from 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, September 22.

The decision was made taking into account COVID case numbers, with Mary-Anne Thomas, Secretary of State for Victorian Health and Ambulance Services, saying they are “well below their winter peak”.

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Thomas said she received advice from the state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton before announcing the change, but still strongly recommends wearing masks on public transport, in line with existing indoor mask recommendations.

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When physical distancing is impossible and for anyone who may be immunocompromised or vulnerable to COVID, mask wearing is still strongly recommended.

Victorians are advised to keep up to date with their COVID vaccinations as the mask mandate is lifted. Recognition: Diego Federe/AAP

“As we transition to living with COVID, it’s important that we ensure lasting behavior change in the community — and that means giving people the choice to wear masks to protect themselves and those around them,” Thomas said.

“These worthwhile changes provide consistency to the community on mask-wearing requirements, and I thank the Chief Health Officer for his advice on this matter.”

Previously, Victorian passengers were required to wear masks unless they had a valid exception, with a $100 fine for dissenters.

The state reminded Victorians ahead of Thursday to keep up to date on COVID vaccinations and encouraged them to get tested if symptoms appear.

Mask requirement across Australia

Massive changes to mask requirements have been made across Australia in recent days.

As of Thursday, all states will no longer mandate masks on public transit, but each state recommends their use and continues to require mask wearing in some sensitive environments.

Here’s what you need to know.

Western Australia

The mask requirement for public transport, ridesharing and domestic flights was relaxed on September 9th.

However, masks are still mandatory in “high-risk environments” such as hospitals, health clinics, correctional facilities, aged care facilities and disability services.

People are “encouraged” to wear masks in crowded indoor spaces “to help protect vulnerable members of the community”.

Queensland

The state of Sunshine allowed public transit commuters — as well as passengers — to remove their masks on Wednesday, September 21.

However, according to Queensland Health, there are mandates for health facilities, residential aged care and shelters for the disabled.

There is also an obligation for people outside their home to wear a mask if they have COVID or COVID symptoms, are awaiting COVID test results, are in close contact with a COVID case, or have a temperature of 37.5C or have more.

Northern Territory

The area updated its rules Monday and now only requires people 12 and older to wear a mask in hospitals, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, facilities for the disabled, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters.

“You are no longer required to wear a face mask in most indoor areas in the Northern Territory, but wearing a mask is still strongly encouraged,” NT Health says on its website.

“You should wear a mask if you cannot physically distance yourself from others.”

South Australia

The state has a specific list of settings where masks are mandatory.

These include health services, pharmacies, facilities for the disabled and nursing homes for the elderly.

It specifies that health services include hospitals, general practices, specialist medical services and practices, mental health services and practices including drug and alcohol services, related health services, complementary and alternative therapy services and practices including Chinese medicine practitioners, dental services, clinics for Pathology, Sexual Health Clinics, Radiology Services, Disability and Rehabilitation Services.

Tasmania

People in the island nation are only required to wear a mask if they have COVID-19 or are in close contact and outside of their home.

People emerging from their five-day COVID isolation must wear a mask in all indoor spaces until the seventh day after their diagnosis.

In other situations, masks aren’t required, but authorities say some places, like hospitals, might require masks to be worn.

“Please be respectful and carry a mask with you in case you need to wear one,” says the Tasmanian Department of Health.

Victoria

Mask requirements for public transit and ridesharing in the state will be eliminated at 11:59 p.m. on September 22.

Masks are also required in “sensitive environments” such as hospitals.

NSW

With the lifting of the public transport mandate on Wednesday, people in NSW over the age of 12 will only be required to wear masks in public hospitals, private health facilities and residential aged care.

Close COVID contacts are instructed to wear masks indoors outside of their homes.

– With AAP and additional reporting by Warren Barnsley

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