Coronavirus

Victoria to ease COVID-19 mask mandate on public transport from 11:59pm Thursday

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Victorians will no longer be required to wear masks on public transport or rideshare vehicles from 11:59pm Thursday, bringing the rules into line with settings in other states.

Masks will still be required in sensitive health settings such as hospitals, care facilities, and allied health providers.

They remain strongly recommended in indoor settings, in situations where physical distancing is not possible, for people who have any COVID symptoms and for anyone who may be immunocompromised or vulnerable to the virus.

Those who test positive to COVID-19 are still required to isolate for at least five days.

The timing of the change means the mask mandate will no longer be in place as people travel into Melbourne’s CBD for the grand final parade on Friday and the showdown between the Geelong Cats and Sydney Swans on Saturday.

Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the changes would create greater national consistency, after New South Wales made a similar move this week.

“As we move to living with COVID, it’s important we ensure enduring behaviour change in the community — and that means giving people the choice to wear masks to protect themselves and those around them,” Ms Thomas said.

“It’s vitally important that Victorians stay up to date with their COVID vaccinations, to help prevent serious illness and to ease pressure on the health system.”

Mask compliance has plummeted

Masks have been mandatory on Victorian public transport since July 2020, as the state went through its second wave of infections.

But Department of Transport data shows compliance has been steadily sliding in recent months.

The data shows mask use peaked during outbreaks in the pre-vaccination phase of the pandemic, and has been generally on the decline since the Omicron outbreak in January this year.

In July, mask compliance on trains hit a pandemic low, with less than half of passengers in random checks wearing masks properly.

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