Wearing face masks may remain mandatory in New South Wales in indoor settings for even longer despite the state hitting 95 percent vaccination rates and low daily case numbers.
The proposal by health bureaucrats to extend the mask mandates through Christmas sparked a furious backlash from citizens. Ben Fordham, host of “2GB breakfast,” led the growing outrage over the proposal. He slammed the government for being “over-cautious.”
“It’s becoming exhausting I’ve got to stay. It’s supposed to end mid-December. So what’s changed? We stopped worrying about case numbers a while ago, remember? That’s why we got vaccinated! How long is this going to go on? If we’re worried about Christmas shopping, then presumably we’re worried about Boxing Day and New Year’s sales and on and on it goes,” Fordham told his listeners Wednesday, Nov. 24.
NSW government officials are looking at extending the mask mandates beyond mid-December amidst fears of the virus spreading and resulting in new spikes of infections. Health Minister Brad Hazzard pledged his support for the extension, and the government is expected to make an announcement in the next few days.
Masks will be compulsory on public transport, in rideshare vehicles and common areas of apartment buildings.
Fordham said that he lasted only one hour on a shopping trip with his kids over the weekend before going home because he was fed up with wearing masks.
He issued a public plea for NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to show some sense by not bowing to the demands of unelected bureaucrats. “The government has bowed to these health officials too many times,” he said.
“All restrictions were supposed to end at 80 percent double dose. Then it changed to 95 percent. Every decision is based on the cautious health advice. Premier please, prove once and for all unelected bureaucrats are not running the show. From December 15, people deserve a choice.”
Unlike NSW, Queensland scrapped mask mandates in retail settings as soon as the state hit 80 percent single-dose vaccination rates.
Citizens voice out against mask mandates
Fordham was met with a lot of support from listeners who want to have the mask mandates scrapped. The proposal sparked even more divisive reactions online as others are happy to continue wearing masks to protect themselves.
Unvaccinated individuals are allowed to enter the same venues as the vaccinated from December 15 onwards, and this is prompting some doctors to push for the mask rules to remain in place. (Related: New South Wales bans unvaccinated Aussies from drinking alcohol while standing at weddings.)
Masks are still required in shops and shopping centers at all times. While they are no longer required in offices, masks are still necessary for shared spaces such as lobbies and elevators.
“Face masks and some of these restrictions have kept people safe,” Perrottet said. “As we’ve released restrictions, we know there are inconsistencies. This is a balance between the economy and keeping people healthy. I want as much consistency across the board as possible.”
As a new premier, Perrottet is expected to face a divided party over the issue. The cabinet will meet to discuss ongoing restrictions and mandates, with rules expected to fall faster than predicted.
The NSW Health continues to push for mask rules as they are “particularly effective in indoor settings.”
“Wearing masks in indoor settings and on public transport provides an important layer of protection from Covid-19 transmission, as it does in other settings where physical distancing may not be possible or is difficult,” a spokesperson for the agency pointed out.
Get more updates regarding the COVID-19 vaccinations and mandates at Pandemic.news.