Calls for mandatory masks and increased restrictions in NSW

The AMA wants the NSW government to tighten restrictions on indoor gatherings.

A man wearing a mask on Sydney's light rail

As community transmission across NSW grows, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) is calling for increased restrictions on indoor gatherings in the state and the wearing of masks.

NSW has recommended residents wear masks on public transport or when they are in a situation where they can’t socially distance, but it is not mandatory.

AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid and NSW AMA president Dr Danielle McMullen said it was time for all people to start wearing masks, particularly indoors.

“The AMA – federally and in NSW – has been broadly supportive of the NSW government’s approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19, but current indications are that it now needs to go further,” Dr Khorshid said.

“We’re at a time when NSW could go either way in terms of ending up like Victoria or moving back to a situation closer to where we were before this outbreak.”

Calls for masks to be made mandatory in NSW have been supported by Melbourne University epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely who told news.com.au NSW, and Sydney in particular, should have mandatory mask wearing.

As well as calling for the mandatory of face masks, he suggested further restriction as well.

“There is also a strong case for a stage three lockdown for a few weeks to get ahead of the virus, and stamp it out,” Prof. Blakely said.

“Otherwise, NSW could look like Victoria in four weeks.”

NSW Labor is calling for masks to be compulsory on public transport, retail spaces and places of worship.

Dr McMullen said that the NSW government had been saying for some time that it strongly recommended people wear masks indoors, and when physical distancing is not possible.

“Their language on indoor gatherings – including restaurants, pubs, clubs, gyms, religious gatherings, and event visitors in people’s households – has also been becoming stronger,” Dr McMullen said.

“People shouldn’t need to be threatened with punishment to comply with sensible recommendations to prevent this very contagious and dangerous virus from spreading.

“All of this said, we would need both the NSW and federal governments to help people in the community and businesses, particularly for obtaining masks that provide adequate protection.

“Even surgical and reusable masks that people in the community will need to comply with government advice can be very expensive and hard to obtain,” Dr McMullen said.

“If the government does mandate the usage of masks, it has a responsibility to ensure that everyone who needs one can source one that is adequate to their needs.

“The government has been asking the community to do the right thing and while many people have responded, infections persist, and NSW is struggling to return to the previous environment where it had no community transmission.”

While stopping short of calling for stage three restrictions to be introduced, the AMA is calling for tighter control on indoor gatherings in NSW.

Last month NSW limited the size of group bookings allowed in hospitality venues to 10 people, which is lower than the 20 allowed previously, and also limited the number of people allowed to attend weddings, funerals and religious gatherings.

In NSW up to 20 people are still allowed to gather in homes.

The AMA said it was time to tighten these restrictions further as community transmission grows.

“We know this sounds like a lot to ask of the community, but the alternative to this is could very well be Victorian-style stage four lockdowns, and we do not want to see those kinds of conditions imposed in NSW,” Dr Khorshid said.

Do you live in NSW? Have you started wearing a mask whenever you leave the house? Do you think it is time to make the wearing of masks mandatory in NSW?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Buggsie
    7th Aug 2020
    3:47pm
    Shopped at the local Coles yesterday and I was the only one wearing a mask. Nobody was even attempting social distancing and the checkout line was crowded chaos. Mandatory masks? Yes please, and what about some responsibility from Coles as well. Why should the local cafe have to maintain a Covid Safe environment when Coles management apparently couldn't care less?
    Karl Marx
    7th Aug 2020
    3:56pm
    Coles, Woolies, Aldi, IGA etc should make it mandatory for all their outlets. How simple is it, no mask no entry, no if no buts. It's the right of every retailer to deny entry to any person into their premises.
    Karl Marx
    7th Aug 2020
    3:52pm
    Many many arguments for & against wearing masks for a multitude of reasons.
    Didn't your mother ever tell you to cover your mouth & nose when you sneezed, coughed, spluttered etc. Well did she, mine did all the time with a backhander if I didn't.
    Do the right thing & wear a mask or face covering & keep all your germs to yourself, simple ain't it. Not rocket science just plain courtesy & respect for others.
    Mariner
    7th Aug 2020
    4:14pm
    You must be of my generation, Karl. Try to give a kid a backhander or a kick up the arse these days and see where you end up. Alas, I DO agree with you.
    LornaH
    7th Aug 2020
    5:36pm
    Because of the demand, companies have made it unbelievably expensive. Refused to buy Made in China masks, so have learned to make my own and my family and gave some away to older friends. Have noticed, too, that the costs of cotton materials (including remnants, which used to be $1:00-$2.00 are now $5:00-$6.00), cotton& elastics to make home made masks have all gone up.
    Fred Nerk
    7th Aug 2020
    3:56pm
    Masks aught to be made compulsory in retail centres & public transport as well in places of entertainment.
    No spectators at sporting events except in (socially distanced) seating.
    Pub Bars and Night Clubs closed.
    Here in Brisbane South I see a high (>50%) of people wearing masks in public. Excellent! but we should aim for 100%.
    Masks need to be made more available & affordable to those on lower incomes.
    Karl Marx
    7th Aug 2020
    4:01pm
    Agree Fred. If you can't buy one then make one. The are easy to make, just google it. Or cover your nose & mouth with a scarf which is better than nothing
    Steff
    7th Aug 2020
    4:07pm
    Why does anyone listen to those agenda driven morons in the AMA.If you want to wear a face diaper wear one.dont force them on everyone else because i can assure you we will be wearing them for the rest of our lives.
    Karl Marx
    7th Aug 2020
    4:10pm
    No respect for others then have you
    ozirules
    7th Aug 2020
    5:09pm
    those agenda driven morons represent the poor buggers who are getting sick themselves trying to help selfish people like you.....if you really want to see a moron, check out the mirror
    LornaH
    7th Aug 2020
    5:38pm
    Another Karen!
    KSS
    7th Aug 2020
    7:33pm
    You'll be staying home then Steph?
    Hoohoo
    11th Aug 2020
    7:00pm
    So the AMA are agenda driven morons, Steff? Really? What agenda? It sounds like YOUR agenda is for us to end up like Victoria or worse, USA (speaking of morons).

    I'm someone who dodges doctors if I possibly can (with my health in mind), but to call health workers and care-givers morons is just plain dopey of you. As ozirules rightly says, these people are risking their own lives and health (and therefore their own family's) and you are metaphorically spitting in their faces. Grow up. Adults have responsibilities as well as rights, didn't you know?

    Anyone living within coo-ee of an outbreak should be wearing masks. So if you live in a city, wear a mask. I live in the country where there is currently no COVID so I'll start wearing a mask as soon as anyone is diagnosed locally.
    Janus
    7th Aug 2020
    4:08pm
    Lots of LAZY regulation happening, same as it did in TAS during the outbreak we had. That was located in the Local hospital, but we were all completely shut down - no travel, cops on the roads, etc. However, tiny local villages, 100s of k away, were also closed down for no comprehensible reason, as all travel was forbidden. Very bad for morale.

    It worked though as us Taswegians followed the rules, and we got it beaten. I am actually so proud of them all. Now lets see how good Vic and NSW are....
    Karl Marx
    7th Aug 2020
    4:14pm
    Victoria & NSW & even the Federal government were the big pushers to reopen state borders & slagged all the other premiers for keeping the borders closed. Now Victoria & NSW are paying the price
    And hats off to Tasmania for closing their borders & resisting the demands of other states to reopen early
    Karl Marx
    7th Aug 2020
    4:16pm
    And I think Tasmania was the first state to actually close it's borders.
    Mariner
    7th Aug 2020
    4:18pm
    Point taken Karl, but don't forget Tasmania is a mendicant State totally reliant on Canberra money. I too can sit safely on a hill when I have a pipeline bringing the dosh.
    KSS
    7th Aug 2020
    7:35pm
    Karl Marx, NSW is paying the price of an infected Victorian travelling to NSW and sharing their illness with people he worked and socalised with. Until then we had no community transmission at all. Almost all cases were in returnees to Australia and in hotel quarantine.
    Karl Marx
    7th Aug 2020
    8:12pm
    KSS, Old Gladys at one stage was, everyday, bagging the QLD premier for keeping the QLD borders closed to NSW. Old Gladys opened NSW to early because as she kept saying the NSW economy was suffering because QLD are keeping their borders closed. As you say the infected traveler was from Victoria because NSW & Vic opened their borders to each other. No other state did. Old Gladys is still responsible for the predicament NSW are in & it's taken 6 months for her to start asking people to wear masks in public.
    Thailand made mask wearing mandatory straight away in early March with lockdowns of the whole country & they have had no local transmissions in well over 2 months & now the country is open for domestic travel which is being encouraged by the government but it's still mandatory to wear masks outside of your home.
    Brissiegirl
    7th Aug 2020
    10:03pm
    Indeed Tasmania's Premier Gutwein was the first to close their borders. He was unequivocal. The other premiers followed his example. Their moat has made Tasmania safe. There is no more beautiful place in the world - and it's safe. I understand that even under the prevailing economic conditions Tassie's real estate is not only maintaining its value, but slightly increasing. People are fleeing the big cities and it's my guess Tasmania would be flooded with northern gypsies if only they could get in.

    Regarding masks. From the beginning, masks should have been compulsory in supermarkets (their frontline staff have proved themselves to be brave national heroes), pharmacies, crowded shopping venues and on public transport. It was wrong, blatantly foolish and even deadly, to have recommended against them. It would have been far better to repeat guidelines for their correct use and start rolling them out via an Australian company asap.

    Closing the economy down whenever there's a cluster will have to stop. It's just a matter of time before they concede that if this goes on for another year, the place will be bankrupt continuing the current strategy.
    Hirajima
    8th Aug 2020
    12:42am
    @Brissiegirl - Bravo your view on a proactive policy on masks. From months ago governments around Australia would have been well advised to be preparing for this on an 'in case of need' basis. Heck, during WWII even kids in the bush had their gas masks at the ready, where the chances of them ever being needed was almost non-existent. But the governments of the day took no chances, unlike our lily-livered lot who roll over and salivate at the words 'Chief Health Officer'. It will be interesting to see if the government of WA learns from the bad examples elsewhere and has a more proactive policy on masks ready for when (not if) their turn comes. Somehow, sadly, I doubt it... though I hope to be proven wrong. But nah, I won't be... in WA as regards masks, it will be last minute and every man and woman for him or herself, just like Victoria. "The one thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history" - even recent history!
    Hoohoo
    12th Aug 2020
    11:38am
    Karl, I recall Victoria was the only State that initially stayed locked down, with the Fed Govt and other States howling them down for being too cautious and restricted.

    If it weren't for the crazy decision to pay a security company reliant on 457 Visas (whose employees were underpaid, under-trained and for whom English wasn't their first language) for those Vic hotels in quarantine, instead of accepting help from Defense, Victoria and the whole country would be smelling like roses now.

    Why aren't governments seeking help from the Defense Forces? They're already paid to put their lives on the line. It makes me suspect there was some commercial deal going down regarding that security company. Why else would the Vic Govt choose to pay someone when they could get properly trained staff (who already know how to carry out strict orders), for free? It smells like snouts in troughs to me.
    Karl Marx
    12th Aug 2020
    6:36pm
    Hoohoo, I think an independent body should investigate thoroughly (deep dive) into the affairs of the said security company including officials, stakeholders etc to make sure there aren't any vested interests from politicians & public servants. Wouldn't surprise me one bit.
    There have been many questions raised but so far no real answers from the government
    Farside
    12th Aug 2020
    7:45pm
    Andrews is pretty confident where the blame for the breach in security will fall ... as Sir Humphrey said, "Never hold an inquiry unless you know what the outcome will be".

    A quick recap from what we already know ...

    1/ Three firms were selected from a pre-approved list - Wilson (also provides security for Feds at Manus and Nauru), MSS (also provides security for Feds and other state govs) and Unified (also provided quarantine security in NSW)

    2/ Wilson's contract with Vic gov stated Wilson responsible providing training in WHS, risk management, covid19 safety inductions, and infection control. It also said guards were to wear appropriate PPE at all times and could not subcontract. Are there grounds to expect contracts with Unified and MSS held lesser conditions?

    3/ A guard from each of Unified and MSS boned a couple of infectious but horny travellers before they became symptomatic. Clearly there was no supervisor appraising their moves but is that surprising? Private guards were used in other states without similar stories.

    4/ If soldiers were used you can only imagine the outcry from travellers at having the military used against them and subsequent PTSD from the trauma. Already they were rorting the restrictions by leveraging emotions from the suicide of one returning traveller. The right wing media would have had a field day with accusations of fascism and comparisons to Guantanemo.
    Hoohoo
    14th Aug 2020
    1:45pm
    I've since found out that the LNP Fed Govt offered help from Defense to both NSW and Vic State Governments, but LNP NSW was offered help at a bargain price, while Socialist Labor Victoria was offered help at a MUCH higher rate. It's no wonder Andrews picked the cheaper (but ultimately disastrous) option.

    Whoever in Morrison's government came up with such politically biased 'help', should be named and shamed. Just not good enough when the stakes for the whole country are so high. What a tragedy!
    Hoohoo
    17th Aug 2020
    8:32pm
    I must retract that last post. It turns out my partner gleaned the info (re the ADF and Morrison's offers to the States) from the internet. Apologies to all - he's usually more reliable, though he thinks it's funny. hahaha
    Bakka
    7th Aug 2020
    4:23pm
    Also not sure about wearing the mask.. unless it is done correctly, could have reverse effect.
    Having said that .. we are in this position because of the " selfish few" and a bungling State Gov.
    Related issue.. lots of equerries for short term ( 8 to 10 weeks) rental for fully furnished acomm in Cairns from families in Vic . apparently you can gain a travel exemption if purchasing real estate or relocating permanently. So these folks get up here on pretext of permanency.. establish a local Electricity A/C.. convert drivers license to QLD. and hey presto.. they are residents of QLD... They even state that they are prepared to do the 2 weeks iso at their own cost. Very clever but highly dishonest and costly... the lengths people are going to to "Spiv" the system. Human Nature... you can always be disapointed but never suprised.
    Fedup
    7th Aug 2020
    5:23pm
    I think masks should be mandatory on public transport and in supermarkets. I haven’t worn one yet as I haven’t been on public transport since COVID started and I go to the supermarket just before they close when there’s virtually no one there. But I would wear one if it became mandatory.
    ozqueen
    7th Aug 2020
    6:38pm
    Love the way the situation in Sydney is applied to the whole state. There are many locations where there has not been a case of the virus at all. There are some like the Hunter which has 12 cases at the moment - all traced to visitors from Sydney.

    I have noticed those that wear masks in my local shopping centre feel it gives them the right to totally ignore social distancing - and that applies to many of the staff too. Very concerning when a lot of the masks being worn do not fit correctly or are made of very flimsy material. Fairly certain too, a few disposable ones I saw today should have been disposed of a couple of wears ago.
    Hoohoo
    15th Aug 2020
    12:34pm
    Yes, even the NSW Govt thinks it's only governing Sydney, regarding most legislature and topics discussed in parliament (and funding, unless it's pork barreling in marginal regions before elections).

    I'm in NSW Northern Rivers, where we've had very few cases of COVID and nothing out of control or untraceable. But we have Gold Coast QLDers wandering south on a daily basis to surf at Byron Bay, Lennox Head and Ballina (outside the Tweed border 'bubble'). Many of them are Brazilian travellers or GC Aussie boys of leisure. I think it's fair to say that surfing, sex and drugs are foremost in their minds, not social distancing, hand hygiene or mask wearing!

    The end result for us is that WE are more at risk from QLD than QLD is at risk from us, yet the QLD Govt pats itself on the back for their one-way border closure. I wish NSW Govt would close OUR border and protect her northerly constituents from QLD.
    Franky
    7th Aug 2020
    6:58pm
    A lot of evidence points to the fact that wearing masks is not effective against the virus, but rather affects our health negatively. Oxygen is important for our immune system to function properly, and when we are breathing in carbon dioxide we are doing ourselves damage. The focus should be on staying in optimum health, as in the end this virus will be with us whether we like it or not.
    Hirajima
    7th Aug 2020
    7:19pm
    Oh dear, is that old hoary chestnut still doing the rounds? There is so much material online now to disprove this rubbish, I can't believe anyone is still trotting it out. For starters, you have a brain surgeon wearing a mask for intensive surgery over a period of (say) 10 hours - a darned sight longer that your quick nip to Woolies in these Covid times. Can you imagine he or she could do intensely detailed surgery with close concentration if the oxygen to the brain was being restricted? Pull the other one :P
    Fedup
    7th Aug 2020
    7:34pm
    Masks don’t block oxygen.
    Steff
    7th Aug 2020
    7:35pm
    Sorry Karens are people like you who go along with this Rubbish
    Steff
    7th Aug 2020
    7:35pm
    Sorry Karens are people like you who go along with this Rubbish
    Steff
    7th Aug 2020
    7:35pm
    Sorry Karens are people like you who go along with this Rubbish
    Hoohoo
    15th Aug 2020
    12:37pm
    I thought YOU were the Bunnings Karen, Steff.
    Perhaps you had better define 'Rubbish', because your sentence sounds like an oxymoron.
    KSS
    7th Aug 2020
    7:42pm
    Wearing a mask does not protect you from other people. Rather it protects other people from you. And it is no solution by itself. You still must maibtain social distancing, keep your hads away from your face, wash your hands with soap and water and when not possible, use hand sanitiser with better than 70% alcohol.

    If you are going to use masks, please do not buy them from Coles. I bought some today because I'll admit to forgetting to take one from home. However, the first mask out of the box broke after walking just 300 mtrs through a shopping centre! They don't it properly - there are gaps between the mask and the face, they slip down and finally there is no indication which side should be outward. With the blue/white masks you know to put the blue side out - it has the water resistant layer there. The Coles masks are completely white with no indication of which side should be outward. The nose bar is too small and in fact the mask seems to be made for a child not an sdult. At $45 for a box of 50, this is very expensive rubbish. I will keep tthem in the car for emergencies but will never buy another box from Coles.
    Hirajima
    7th Aug 2020
    7:52pm
    Yes, unfortunately there is a wide variety of mask quality out there. To be honest, a home made fabric mask which fits tightly to the face, two layers with a pocket in between to line with replaceable paper towel folded in a few layers, at least you know what you're getting and it will do a better job than what you're buying from Coles.
    robin hood
    7th Aug 2020
    8:54pm
    I dont like the premier of NSW look how she rubbished our premier for keeping the borders closed ..and look at NSW and Victoria now ..she wouldnt even come to the party when we wanted to include some parts of NSW so it would make it all a lot easier for people like the Tweed and a bit further down ..i think she is just nasty ..we are doing far better than our southern states ..blow the idiots who dont like us closing them .they complain we dont have any cases!!! Well THATS HOW WE WANT IT TO STAY
    LornaH
    8th Aug 2020
    7:32am
    Don't worry, I am fron NSW and do not like our premier either! Qld premier has the guts to say NO to other state premiers, does not get intimidated or bullied!
    Hoohoo
    12th Aug 2020
    11:52am
    But even with (or because of?) the "Tweed bubble", Queenslanders are travelling willy nilly into NSW daily, to surf in Byron (Byron Shire) and further south to Lennox Head (Ballina Shire). They're out there surfing with my husband right now.

    QLD is protecting itself but doesn't give a stuff about northern NSW, where we have very few if any cases, certainly less than the Gold Coast. Unfortunately, we had planeloads of Vics and Sydney people flying into Ballina every day BECAUSE QLD was closed and this was as far north tourists could get to escape the southern Winter.

    If QLD insists on retaining the "Tweed bubble" then they should also create a hard border on the Tweed Shire, to stop these irresponsible surfers. They eat here, they drink coffee here, they buy drugs here and they look for sex here. No chance of them adnering to other rules like social distancing, that's for sure.
    Teacher
    8th Aug 2020
    12:52am
    I want to wear a mask while out of the house but, as an asthmatic, I have problems with breathing when wearing it. If it is a good mask and the virus can't get in, then the oxygen can't either. In the first stages of the virus I bought the correct material to make some masks but because of health problems (not associated with the virus) and a cataract operation, I haven't got around to it yet. In my instructions it said to buy material with a certain high 'thread count'. If you use bed sheets, as some instructions suggest, make sure they are very good quality sheets because they will have a high enough thread count.
    I wonder whether all the fancy, floral masks have a good thread count. Be careful when making your own, you may be wasting your time and risking your health.
    Karl Marx
    8th Aug 2020
    10:39am
    Talk to your Chemist or Dr about a mask. Masks not allowing oxygen through is a furphy, how do you think surgeons & their team get on during major operations that may last many hours.
    I know a few asthmatics including family that have no issues wearing a mask even for the odd extended period
    Really, any face covering is better than nothing if it covers the nose & mouth.
    SuziJ
    8th Aug 2020
    11:29am
    Masks 'should' be mandatory for areas with outbreaks, not those without any new cases.

    We have 10 active cases in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, but there's none currently where I live on the border with Victoria. The MLHD is MASSIVE, with an area of 125,243 square kms.


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles

    You May Like