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Saturday, September 19, 2020
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Mask wearing ‘fourth line of defence’ in ACT, not mandatory

While the wearing of face masks in the ACT remains optional because Canberra is not an area of high community transmission of COVID-19, mask wearing could be mandated if the situation changes.

Yesterday, the ACT Government endorsed the NSW Chief Health Officer’s position that wearing masks is the fourth line of defence against COVID-19 after social distancing, hand hygiene and staying home if you are sick.

In a joint statement, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said that while the ACT is currently COVID-free, the risk of the virus returning to the Territory is edging higher with daily increases in the number of active cases across NSW.

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The statement said:

“The NSW Premier and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant have reiterated that NSW is now in a critical stage of their COVID-19 response.

Advice on mask wearing  

“The NSW Government is encouraging people to wear a mask in enclosed spaces where physical distancing is not possible. This includes work in customer-facing roles in hospitality or retail, public transport and places of worship. Facemasks are also recommended for people in areas of high community transmission.

“It is not yet a mandatory requirement in NSW.

“NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has been clear that wearing masks is the fourth line of defence after social distancing, hand hygiene and staying home if you are sick.  The ACT endorses this position from the NSW Chief Health Officer.

“Canberra is not an area of high community transmission and, therefore, the wearing of face masks is not currently a mandatory requirement.

“However, a situation may arise in the future where that changes. If we start to see cases in areas immediately surrounding the ACT, or we start to get new cases in Canberra, then wearing a face mask in public will feature as part of our response.  

“Just like NSW, mask wearing would be the fourth line of defence in Canberra.  It would be in addition to physical distancing, hand hygiene and staying home if you are unwell.

“ACT residents, particularly those unable to physically distance in their daily work or daily activities, are now encouraged to prepare for a time where wearing a face masks becomes another part of how we respond to the threat of COVID-19.  

NSW Travel

“Canberrans are again reminded that any travel to Greater Sydney should be avoided unless it is absolutely essential.

“While the majority of current NSW cases are in the Greater Sydney area, any travel outside of the ACT should be carefully considered.

“For the time being, Canberrans should not be inviting family and friends from the Greater Sydney area to visit.

“If you do have to travel, Canberrans should heed the advice from NSW Health on face masks. Wearing a face mask in enclosed, high traffic environments where it is impossible to physically distance is now recommended,” the statement concluded.

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