Victoria makes masks mandatory, extends state of emergency

Sydney, Australia, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- Authorities in the Australian state of Victoria announced Sunday that wearing a mask will be mandatory and the state of emergency will be extended amid the outbreaks in Melbourne and Michell Shire.

From Wednesday at 11.59 pm, those not wearing masks in public will be fined AU$200 ($140).

“People living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire and will now be required to wear a face covering when leaving home… following a concerning increase in coronavirus cases in recent days,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement.

“Based on the latest advice from the Chief Health Officer, we’re urging Victorians: just as you remember to take your keys when you leave the house, you need to remember to take something to cover your face – to help keep you and our community safe.”

Those who have a medical or professional reason not to wear one, children under 12 years of age, teachers while teaching, or those exercising will not need to wear one, “however you will still be expected to carry your face covering at all times to wear when you can,” he said.

The state reported 363 new cases on Sunday, along with three deaths of two men and a woman, all in their nineties, bringing the state death toll to 38.

“While we’ve recently seen a decrease in the number of cases being spread between families, the majority of our outbreaks are now coming from settings where people are working closely together,” Andrews said, adding that “an inspection and enforcement blitz will be carried out in workplaces across the state.”

He said that as cases in aged care and health care settings remains high, from July 22, “visitation will be restricted to those defined as carers only, with a limit of one hour per day.” Staff will also be able to access free testing.

Victoria has also extended its state of emergency for another month.

An extra 272 Australian Defence Force personnel will be deployed to Victoria, in addition to 1,212 members already stationed there, national broadcaster ABC reported.

Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are in the midst of a six-week lockdown period after a new outbreak in cases of COVID-19 began, attributed to possible breaches of infection control protocols in quarantine hotels for those entering the country. EFE-EPA


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