Face masks will become mandatory across Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 across the city.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the drastic new measure on Sunday as the state recorded another 363 cases and three more deaths from the infectious respiratory disease.
Those who disobey the new government directive – effective from 11.59pm on Wednesday – will face a $200 fine.
He said the mask did not necessarily need to be hospital-grade, and could be a home-made face covering like a scarf.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has meanwhile announced the state’s state of emergency will be extended to August 16 as case numbers continue to rise.
Andrews said there would be exceptions to the order in cases where it’s not practical or masks cannot be worn for professional reasons.
‘Those who have a medical reason, kids under 12 years of age, those who have a professional reason or if it’s just not practical, like when running [will be given an exemption],’ he said.
‘However you will still be expected to carry your face covering at all times to wear when you can.’
Teachers will not have to wear a mask while teaching, but students attending for VCE and VCAL secondary qualifications or for onsite supervision will not be exempted.
Andrews said the stage three restrictions already in place would still apply and Melbourne residents could only leave the home for one of the four permitted reasons – for essential shopping, to provide care, for work or study, or for exercise.
‘I just want to make a point about the fact that whilst a mask or a face covering will be of benefit, it doesn’t mean that we can be shaking hands again,’ he said.
‘It doesn’t mean that we can be closer than 1.5m apart. It doesn’t mean hand hygiene is any less important.
‘It certainly doesn’t mean that you can head out of your home for a fifth or a sixth or seventh reason.’
Victoria recorded 217 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, a substantial drop from Friday’s record 428,