Scarves, bandanas and face shields are no longer acceptable face coverings in Victoria

Scarves, bandanas and face shields are no longer acceptable face coverings in Victoria

Words by Talia Rinaldo

Wearing anything other than a fitted face mask will incur a fine under new face coverings rule.

On Sunday September 27, Premier Dan Andrews revealed that from today, Monday September 28, Melbourne will be moving to step two of the government’s road map to reopening with the easing of a raft of restrictions.

Changes for Metro Melbourne include:
– The lifting of the curfew, which has been in place from 9pm to 5am in Melbourne
– Up to five people, from a maximum of two households, will now be able to meet outside in a public place for up to two hours
– 127,000 workers can return to various industries, including supermarket, food distribution, food processing, manufacturing and some solo outdoor employees – about 30,000 more than initially planned
– Primary school students will return to schools in the week beginning October 12
– Childcare centres can open for all children
– Visitors will be allowed in healthcare facilities and hospitals – one visitor per patient, per day for a maximum of two hours for most patients. For those under 18, two parents or carers can visit with no time limit
– Hiking, fishing and other exercises that don’t involve visiting a facility will be allowed for a maximum of two hours, within 5km of home
– Private inspections can resume for real estate
– Weddings can take place with up to five people
– Apprentices and uni students in their final year of study will be able to attend onsite learning and assessment where necessary
– Elective surgery will be ramped up to 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels

In conjunction with the easing of restrictions, the state will increase on-the-spot fines for breaching gathering restrictions to almost $5,000 per person.

Yesterday’s announcement also revealed new changes to the rules relating to mandatory face coverings in Victoria, with new requirements for the type of masks that are allowed.

From today, scarves, bandanas and face shields will no longer be considered acceptable face coverings in Victoria, and people will need to wear a fitted face mask that covers the nose and mouth when outside their homes. There will be a grace period on enforcement, to allow people to acquire acceptable face masks if they do not have any.

“With more people moving across the city, our public health team have advised the rules around wearing a mask need to be strengthened,” Premier Andrews said. “As I’ve said before, wearing a face covering is a small sacrifice – but it makes a huge difference in keeping all of us safe.”

Anyone caught wearing a bandana, shield or scarf risks a fine for breaching public health directives. At present in Victoria, anyone not wearing a mask when outside the home for a valid reason or with an acceptable exemption is subject to a $200 infringement.

However, the premier’s official statement regarding face mask rules does conflict with that of the DHHS, which implies that bandanas and scarves are still acceptable but face shields are not.

The changes were announced after Victoria recorded another 16 cases, and the number of active cases fell below 400 for the first time since June 14. The two-week rolling case average for new coronavirus cases in Melbourne has fallen to 22.1, well below the stated aim of between 30 and 50. The average is just 0.6 for regional Victoria.

Andrews also revealed that “trigger points” for the next steps out of lockdown would no longer be defined by dates in the calendar. Instead, the move will be dependent on case number targets which, he said, could see the next step for restrictions reached by October 19.

You can read the Premier’s statement here.

This article originally appeared on Forte