The Victorian government criticized Scott Morrison and Dominic Perrottet for failing to follow health advice recommending the introduction of mask warrants.
Victoria’s Acting Prime Minister James Merlino has announced that starting at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, masks will become mandatory in all indoor locations outside the home, for those eight and over across the state.
Mask warrants are now in place in Victoria, Queensland, ACT, Tasmania, parts of the Northern Territory and some high-risk settings in South Australia.
Merlino also said face masks would be required at all major events with more than 30,000 customers.
“This is a sensible response that will allow businesses to stay open, bars and restaurants to continue to stay open and big events to take place,” said Merlino.
“Masks are an inexpensive and effective way to maintain the health of the community – it’s something public health experts are calling for.”
Victoria’s director of health, Brett Sutton, said he acted on advice the federal government received from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).
“The masks will help keep businesses open and they will massively reduce the risk of transmission,” Sutton said.
“The modeling the Commonwealth received from the AHPPC tells us that the risks of not acting far outweigh the risks of acting. So, the modeling also tells us that people wearing masks will significantly reduce the pressure on our hospitals and keep people safe. “
The prime minister has not called for a nationwide mandate for the masks over the Christmas period, despite health advice to make them mandatory indoors.
The NSW premier has also resisted calls to introduce indoor mask warrants.
Medical bodies, including the Australian Medical Association and Professional Pharmacists Australia, had urged the national cabinet to restore some public health measures, including indoor masks.
Merlino said further blockages were not on the table as Victoria was in a strong position due to her high vaccination rates.
The government will provide an additional $ 31 million to help the Commonwealth booster program pending advice from the vaccination expert group on reducing the third dose interval.
Wednesday’s national cabinet meeting heard advice from federal health officials who “strongly recommended” the wearing of masks indoors and in other places where social distancing was difficult.
But the country’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, said it is up to states and territories to decide whether they get there through warrants.
Morrison said wearing the mask was a personal choice.
“Wear a mask in an indoor setting. You don’t need to be forced to do it, ”he said. “There is no confusion about it, wear one.
“Think of Christmas Day when you go to see elderly parents and wear a mask – it’s pretty simple.”
Victoria on Thursday recorded 2,005 new Covid cases and 10 deaths, the first time the state’s daily count has exceeded 2,000 since the end of October.
There has been an increase in the number of cases in the eastern states, with NSW recording 5,715.
The daily Covid figures in Queensland also increased significantly with 369 new infections recorded, up from 186 the day before.
The surge in numbers came as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk signaled changes to the state’s plan for travelers arriving from interstate hot spots, but not in time for Christmas.
Currently, those wishing to come to Queensland must get a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of arrival, but wait times at testing clinics across the country are very long.
“We had a great national cabinet meeting yesterday, we are talking about these rapid tests… we are considering bringing them in on January 1,” Palaszczuk said Thursday on the Gold Coast.
Arrivals from NSW, Victoria and ACT are increasing at “around 30,000” per day, “she said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was up to states and territories to introduce mask warrants.
“We encourage people, following the advice given to the national cabinet, to use masks indoors,” he said.
“It is the business of states and territories. But states and territories with their public health orders, be it QR codes in NSW, masks in Victoria, have responded well. And I think it’s important for me to recognize that.
“And where the national cabinet has led to a positive approach when it comes to what’s called public health and social measures, or basically how people interact with each other, so they’re safer , but they are still able to get along with their lives, I think this is a very important proof that the national cabinet delivers safer results, but without restricting people’s lives.
Meanwhile, residents of Perth and the Peel region of Washington state will be required to wear face masks in indoor locations over Christmas time after an unvaccinated French backpacker who frequented more than a dozen of places tested positive for Covid.
The mask requirement will apply to all indoor public places, including shopping malls and public transport, from 6 p.m. on Thursday until at least 6 a.m. on December 28.
It will not apply to home settings, including family gatherings on Christmas Day or during vigorous exercise outdoors.
Large, high-risk public events, including music festivals, will be canceled and all nightclubs closed, with dancing prohibited except during weddings.
But Premier Mark McGowan said the state’s high level of immunization meant Perth and Peel would not be stranded as happened in previous outbreaks.
With Australian Associated Press