Bath calls for a change in mask rules

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has called on the Premier to make masks optional in Victoria in State Parliament this week.

Ms Bath said many people in eastern Victoria continue to ask me when will masks no longer be mandatory.

“With zero cases in Gippsland, a 14 day rolling average of 0.4 cases and no recorded community transmission in Victoria, mandatory mask wearing in all situations has become unnecessary.

“Gippslanders have been magnificent doing their bit to achieve a COVID free status, however, many are suffering COVID fatigue and would like to see mask wearing become optional.

“Masks play a role when people are unable to physically distance such visiting the supermarket and hardware store or travelling on public transport.”

Ms Bath said leading epidemiologists and infection control experts consistently say masks only play a role when there is widespread community transmission, with ANU infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon saying, ‘masks have a place when there is transmission … but wearing masks outside is not going to make a difference’.

Ms Bath said with the NSW border opening on 23rd November, it is appropriate to change the mask rule to optional, with wearing masks advisable when physical distancing is not possible.

“The Nationals have repeatedly asked the Premier to release his health evidence he on masks, however our requests have been repeatedly refused,” said Ms Bath.

“If Premier continues to ignore health professionals and not align Victoria’s mask rule with NSW, we run the risk of domestic tourists choosing to ‘escape’ Victoria, while interstate tourists may stay away.

“At a time when Gippsland business operators are desperate to recover following drought, drought and coronavirus, I am calling on the Premier to follow NSW’s lead and model Victoria’s mask directives on the international expert health advice.”