Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged possible changes to the state’s mandatory mask rules, as the state records its 16th-straight day without a new coronavirus infection or death.
- Mr Andrews says the first change to mask rules could be not having to wear one when alone outdoors
- But he says no announcement will be made before next Sunday, and masks will remain “as long as they help keep the numbers low”
- In another milestone “doughnut day”, there were no mystery cases recorded over a fortnight
The state’s 14-day count of mystery cases has also fallen to zero for the first time since the second wave.
Three active coronavirus cases remain in Victoria.
There were 8,323 test results received, which is the lowest number of tests for at least a week.
With a run of days without new infections, calls are growing for the mandatory mask rules to be relaxed, particularly in increasingly hot parts of regional Victoria.
Masks have been found to be effective in preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng yesterday suggested mask rules could be relaxed for outdoors but remain mandatory indoors.
Under questioning from reporters, he said that could occur within the next month, but when and how the rules might change would depend on a number of factors.
Mr Andrews today reiterated his Government’s stance that masks were an insurance policy, especially as the state began to open back up.
“It is a small thing to do, but it is making a big difference,” Mr Andrews said.
But he said when he announces the next step of eased restrictions on November 22, mask rules may also be changed.
He suggested that it may not be mandatory to wear them when alone outdoors, but said that would not be confirmed today.
“They will not be here forever, but will remain as long as they help keep the numbers low,” he said.
Case of ‘shedding’ not added to case count
On Sunday, the health department’s Expert Review Panel ruled a possible new infection was, in fact, a case of persistent shedding.
Shedding refers to when a person who previously had COVID-19 still has remnants of the virus in their system, even if they are not infectious anymore.
There have been a number of these cases in Victoria in recent weeks, which have all been investigated by the state’s expert review panel and not included in the daily total of new infections.
“Yesterday afternoon, the department received notification of a positive test result in a previously diagnosed case of COVID-19. The case originally tested positive in July and was cleared in August,” the department’s daily update said on Sunday.
However, health authorities said they believed it was “persistent shedding and not a new infection”, something the department confirmed on Sunday evening.
Chief Health Officer’s own rules see him unable to ‘get on the beers’
It comes as Melburnians enjoyed their first weekend of freedom since the metropolitan-regional border came down and the 25-kilometre travel limit was scrapped.
After months in lockdown, people flocked to the regions, including the state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who has taken a week of leave, his longest break since January.
On a visit to Bright, in the state’s north-east, Professor Sutton found himself refused a table at a local brewery because his own density requirements meant there was not enough space to seat him.
Victorian hospitality venues are restricted to 70 people outdoors and 40 people indoors, but they must comply with density limits of no more than one person per four square metres indoors, and one person per two square metres outdoors.
Staff said Professor Sutton “was a great sport” and apologised for not allowing him to “get on the beers”.