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‘Just do it’: Strongest hint yet on mandatory masks

1 month ago 15

The NSW Government has issued its strongest message yet on masks, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying the uptake wasn’t good enough and Health Minister Brad Hazzard saying covering up was no longer a question.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr Hazzard said the virus was “very dangerous” and while the government was still not mandating masks, the message was to wear one on public transport, shopping or at religious venues.

“The bottom line here is masks,” Mr Hazzard said.

“It’s not a matter of actually asking whether it’s OK to do it, it’s a case of just do it,” he added.

Ms Berejiklian said the state remained on “high alert”, and suggested politicians were prepared to get tougher on masks if uptake in crowded areas and on public transport didn’t rise in the near future.

“We know the rules we’ve put in place, the strong advice we’ve provided, works so long as it’s applied across the board,” she said.

“Whether it’s an extra-curricular school activity – which shouldn’t occur – whether it’s the recommendation for people to wear masks when they can’t guarantee social distancing and whether it’s the way we’ve asked businesses to approach a COVID safe environment – compliance is absolutely critical.”

Ms Berejiklian said early data from Service NSW showed there was an increase in business compliance, mask wearing and general awareness of health advice – but the increase needed to be larger, with a particular emphasis on churches and other religious venues.

“We need to see a greater uptake,” she said. “And if we don’t see a greater uptake in the next little while, we will consider further measures in which we can increase that uptake.”

There have been 18 new cases of coronavirus diagnosed in New South Wales up to 8pm on Tuesday night.

Of those, only one case is a returned traveller from overseas, two are interstate infections from Victoria and 13 were locally acquired and linked to known cases.

Concerningly, two more were locally acquired with no known source.

One of these mystery cases is at Catholic high school Our Lady of Mercy Parramatta, where there are two other cases already diagnosed.

The school’s third case is not linked to the first two, and due to concern of the virus spreading, the school has been closed for 14 days to allow for contact tracing. Students and staff are advised to self-isolate and get tested.

NSW Health has backflipped on the requirement for those returning from Victoria to pay for their hotel quarantine.

The decision has been reversed, and quarantine will be free for the next month to ease the financial burden on returnees.

This charge will be waived retrospectively and apply to NSW residents already in quarantine after returning from Victoria.

Wednesday’s cases have sparked warnings for patrons of six new venues.

Anyone who attended or worked at the Wildginger restaurant in Huskisson on Saturday August 8 between 7:45pm to 10:30pm, must self isolate for 14 days and get tested for COVID-19.

Those who were at the following venues at the dates and times indicated are advised to monitor for symptoms and get a test should any symptoms present.

Rhodes Ikea on August 8 from 1.20-2.20pm. Westfield Parramatta on August 5 from 4-5.30pm and August 8 from 12pm to 1pm. Dooleys Lidcombe Catholic Club from 5pm August 7 to 1.30am on August 8. Castle Towers Shopping Centre on August 7 from 3.30-5pm Baby Bunting in Penrith on August 8 from 1.15-1.45pm
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