By ALLISON HORE
From midnight on Saturday mask wearing will be compulsory in certain indoor settings across the Greater Sydney area
Despite high testing rates and low numbers of confirmed cases, the number of cases popping up outside of the Northern beaches area has led NSW Health to make masks mandatory for certain indoor venues across the Greater Sydney area.
Venues where mask wearing will be required include shopping centres, indoor entertainment venues, places of worship and hospitality venues. Commuters catching trains, buses, ferries or any other sort of public transport will not be allowed to board without a mask.
Children under 12 do not have to wear a mask but will be encouraged to do so.
Premier Gladys Berejikilian said the mask mandate should not “come as a surprise” to the people of Sydney as NSW Health had already been strongly recommending that masks be worn.
“We have already strongly recommended mask wearing in these settings, but what we want to do is to make sure we’re not in a situation where we’re restricting people’s ability to go about their business,” she said.
State opposition leader Jodi McKay welcomed the mandate and said “mounting pressure from health experts, epidemiologists, doctors and frontline health workers” had “dragged” the premier into making the decision.
On Friday, the Australian Medical Association called for masks to be made mandatory in Sydney saying they are a “simple way” to reduce the spread of the virus.
“With COVID, ’tis better to neither give nor receive. Wearing a mask can reduce the risk by about 30 per cent,” the association said on Twitter.
“Make them mandatory.”
Police will be enforcing the mask mandate from Monday. Those found to be in breach of the mandate will be issued $200 fines.
As well as the mask mandate, additional caps to the capacity of certain venues will also come into play.
Churchs, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship will now have a maximum of 100 people allowed, or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lower.
Outdoor concerts and performances will be capped at 500 people and ticketed seated sporting events will have a maximum of 2,000 spectators.