Mask mandates back in focus as Victoria floats return of tough restrictions

Incoming Victorian Health Minister has refused to rule out the reintroduction of mask mandates and working from home orders

Mask mandates back in focus as Victoria floats return of tough restrictions
File Photo. AP/Ana Brigida
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Victoria's Labor government has warned face mask mandates and working from home orders could be reintroduced as rising Covid cases continue to drive fresh pandemic fears.

While no decisions have been made, Labor MP Mary-Anne Thomas said “various ideas have floated”.

Thomas was sworn into her new role as the state's Health Minister just weeks ago following Martin Foley’s resignation.

“The public health team are looking at modelling and consulting with their colleagues and various ideas have floated but no decisions have been taken,” she said in an interview with 3AW on Thursday.

The new pandemic declaration enables me to make that decision but I have not yet made it and I’m continuing my consultation, not just with the health team but more broadly.

I chat each day with the public health team but as the Minister for Health, my job is also to ensure that I’m consulting widely and understanding what measures can be put in place to best support Victorians as we go forward.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews this week extended his state's controversial pandemic powers declaration citing a "serious risk to public health" across the state from Covid-19.

The orders will be effective until 11.59pm on Wednesday, October 12.

In making the declaration, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that there continues to be a serious risk to public health throughout Victoria due to the coronavirus disease, which requires continued public health and other protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission and hospitalisation,” he said.

In Queensland, the public is being warned to brace for a 'third wave' of the pandemic branded as the state's 'worst ever' Covid-19 period with the latest sub-variant reported in the Queensland media to 'evade the immunity built up in the vaccinated and those who have already caught the virus'.

But unlike Victoria, the state's Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard has stated that mask mandates won’t be returning, saying that Queenslanders needed to take personal responsibility and that further legal mandates would be divisive.

I do not believe we’ll be heading back towards mask mandates,” he said.

These waves are likely to continue off and on every few months for some time to come, it could be years.

“If we keep implementing legal mandates every three months and then withdrawing them, I think that is just divisive and it’s not helpful and I think people will not follow them.

“I am not at all in favour of mask mandates at this stage.”

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  • By Avi Yemini

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