Slow uptake as Canberrans start wearing masks at shops

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As of this week, Canberrans shopping at their local Woolworths or Bunnings have been “highly encouraged” to wear masks in store despite public health advice from the ACT Government suggesting doing so isn’t effective while there is no evidence of community transmission of COVID-19.

During the week, CW headed out to poll Canberra locals about their decision to don a mask at the shops.

Just stepping out of Woolworths Dickson with shopping in hand, Helen from Hall said she thought it was an “excellent idea” for the supermarket chain to promote mask wearing in store.

“We can’t be too certain about the spread of the virus; it could happen to anybody even though Canberra has a very good record,” she said.

“There does seem to be rising infections in NSW, and with tourists passing through … I think that we do have to be a bit community minded.

“We have to just be a little bit community aware, and it doesn’t hurt anybody to put on a mask.”

Helen said despite the edict from Woolworths, she didn’t notice many other shoppers wearing masks.

“I was just commenting actually to one of the cashiers who was saying that she wished there would be a bit more of an uptake.”

“We have to just be a little bit community aware, and it doesn’t hurt anybody to put on a mask.”

– Helen of Hall
Canberra masks shops Helen from Hall
Helen from Hall told Canberra Weekly she thought it was an “excellent idea” for Woolworths to promote mask wearing in their stores. Photos: Kerrie Brewer.

Robin of Campbell said she was happy to wear a mask to Woolies but given the lack of community transmission currently in the ACT, she wouldn’t be doing so elsewhere.

“This is literally the first time I’ve worn a mask. I did it because Woolworths has recommended people wear them in Woolworths,” she said.

“I didn’t really like it at all; I felt as though I wasn’t breathing as freely as I normally do.

“I certainly saw one, but there were very few other customers wearing masks and I didn’t see any sales assistants wearing masks,” she said.

Allen from Moncrieff said he’d been wearing a mask in public for “three months” because he lived with his wife’s parents who were considered at risk.

“We decided to wear masks even before all the rules and restrictions were in place. It’s a family decision with it.

“Just more recently we’ve been actively advocating for it and purchasing the good quality reusable ones,” he said.

Allen said he had noticed a recent uptake in mask wearing.

“Wherever you go you see people wearing them, but I cannot say the majority are … I think it’s going to pick up with other states seeing their case numbers rise.”

Canberra masks shops Allen from Moncrieff
Allen from Moncrieff has been wearing a mask in public for “three months” because he lives with his wife’s parents who were considered at risk.

Sarah, from retail store Sauvage Urbain, said she had been wearing a mask in store for months now, and that customers were largely supportive of her decision to do so.

“At work or going shopping, I always wear it. It’s a thing that sticks on me at all times,” she said.

“I certainly saw one, but there were very few other customers wearing masks.”

– Robin of Campbell

Sarah said she had noticed a lot more customers enter her store wearing a mask since Melbourne’s case numbers started rising again.

“A lot more, and even in Tuggeranong I see a lot more people wearing masks … the amount of people coming in store wearing them, I’m really proud of them.”

Canberra masks shops Helen Sauvage Urbain
Sarah, from retail store Sauvage Urbain, has been wearing a mask in store for months now, and said customers were largely supportive of her decision to do so.

Doug and Lesley of Harrison said they had started wearing masks to the shops this week following Woolworths’ announcement.

 “If Woolworths hadn’t put the call out encouraging it, we probably wouldn’t have because we’ve had no qualms about shopping or anything like that,” Doug said.

“If you’ve got it on for one shop you might as well stick it on for the others.

“It hasn’t really worried us … we’re a very low-density population here, you can walk around, it’s easy to walk distances, say hello to people when they’re over there and you’re over here.”

Helen said that while she and Doug are in the most vulnerable category, they haven’t worried about face coverings up until now.

“Complacency, is it not the biggest enemy of the whole thing? Once you think it’s over you could find yourself back again … Our attitude is you do what you can to prevent it,” she said.

Canberra masks shops Doug and Lesley
Doug and Lesley of Harrison started wearing masks to the shops this week following Woolworths’ announcement encouraging shoppers to do so.

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