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Victoria slams NSW for not making masks mandatory until two weeks in to the Sydney outbreak

Victorian have accused their NSW counterparts of taking too long to mandate masks the combat the coronavirus outbreak on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Masks were eventually made mandatory in some indoor settings in Greater Sydney from Sunday, more than two weeks after the cluster emerged.

The outbreak spread to Melbourne days after the northern beaches cases first appeared, with more than a dozen testing positive so far.

Nervous Victorian officials scarred by Melbourne’s second wave had pleaded with NSW Health early on in the outbreak to make face coverings compulsory.     

Masks are now mandatory in some indoor settings in Greater Sydney, including for hospitality workers (pictured), but Victorian health officials had reportedly wanted their NSW counterparts to implement the measure much earlier on in the Northern Beaches outbreak

Masks are now mandatory in some indoor settings in Greater Sydney, including for hospitality workers (pictured), but Victorian health officials had reportedly wanted their NSW counterparts to implement the measure much earlier on in the Northern Beaches outbreak

Masks are now mandatory in some indoor settings in Greater Sydney, including for hospitality workers (pictured), but Victorian health officials had reportedly wanted their NSW counterparts to implement the measure much earlier on in the Northern Beaches outbreak

NSW's Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant

NSW's Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant

Victoria's Chief Public Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton

Victoria's Chief Public Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton (right) reportedly called his NSW counterpart Dr Kerry Chant (left) urging NSW to make face coverings mandatory  

Victoria’s chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton called his counterpart Dr Kerry Chant to urge the state to learn from Melbourne and make residents wear masks, the Herald Sun reported. 

But NSW only announced on Saturday Greater Sydney residents have to wear masks when visiting public indoor settings, like a cinema or shopping centre.    

Victorian health authorities reportedly started to become anxious NSW was taking too much of a relaxed approached to the outbreak.

They were also concerned NSW was not requiring secondary contacts to isolate along with confirmed cases and close contacts of those cases, which is deemed by Victoria as pivotal to getting on top of outbreaks.     

One source told The Herald Sun there was a growing fear that if NSW did not mandate masks ‘and introduce a secondary ring of contact tracing, they will try to chase and chase and chase each case’.

That in turn would mean NSW ‘will see greater numbers of mystery cases emerging’. 

Victoria on Sunday recorded three new locally acquired cases of coronavirus, all linked to the cluster in Black Rock, Melbourne, which now stands at 21.

Thirteen of those cluster cases dined at the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant on December 21, which was visited by a patron who had been in New South Wales.

Health officials in Victoria were reportedly pleading with NSW to mandate masks more than two weeks ago. Pictured, Melbourne residents wear masks as they line up to enter a venue

Health officials in Victoria were reportedly pleading with NSW to mandate masks more than two weeks ago. Pictured, Melbourne residents wear masks as they line up to enter a venue

Health officials in Victoria were reportedly pleading with NSW to mandate masks more than two weeks ago. Pictured, Melbourne residents wear masks as they line up to enter a venue  

Face masks are now mandatory in certain indoor settings, including on public transport, in Greater Sydney. Pictured, a woman in a face mask walks along George Street

Face masks are now mandatory in certain indoor settings, including on public transport, in Greater Sydney. Pictured, a woman in a face mask walks along George Street

Face masks are now mandatory in certain indoor settings, including on public transport, in Greater Sydney. Pictured, a woman in a face mask walks along George Street

When to wear a face mask

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian announced face masks would be mandatory for all Greater Sydney residents from 11.59pm on Saturday.

The rule also applies to residents living Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains.

Whenever a resident leaves their home, they will need to wear a mask when visiting these indoor settings:

1) Entertainment venues, such as a cinema

2) Places of worship, such as a church or mosque

3) Public transport, such as buses and trains

4) Shopping centres

5)  Established gaming areas

6) Hair and beauty salons

Anyone who is caught not wearing a face mask risks copping a $200 fine. 

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Authorities on Saturday revealed the results from genomic testing had directly linked the Black Rock cluster to Sydney’s Northern Beaches outbreak.  

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced face coverings would become mandatory on Saturday, with the change coming into effect from 11:59pm that day.

Residents in Greater Sydney, which includes Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains, are required to cover up.

Children aged under 12 years are not required to wear a mask, though it is strongly encouraged.

It is compulsory to wear a mask in some indoor places including shopping centres and cinemas, and on public transport – which includes trains and buses.

Residents visiting an entertainment venue, hair and beauty salons, gaming areas or places of worship will also have to follow the rules.

Hospitality staff also have to wear a mask while serving customers.

Although the rule will come into effect over the weekend, enforcement will not begin until Monday.

Anyone caught not wearing a mask within these indoor settings risks copping a $200 fine.

‘We want people in NSW to be able to go about their business as much as possible but we need to reduce the risks in certain settings where we know there are challenges,’ Ms Berejiklian said.

‘We have already strongly wanted people to wear a mask but we do not want to restrict peoples ability to go about their business.

‘We want to increase economic activity and mask wearing in these settings will ensure we have the confidence to do that.’ 

Source: Daily Mail AU

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