(Natural News) The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has reimposed mask mandates a few days before Christmas. The move comes as New South Wales (NSW) faces a surge in Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases driven by the omicron variant.
Originally repealed on Nov. 12, Canberra made face masks mandatory again, with the order taking effect on 11:59 p.m. of Dec. 21. Masks are now required in all indoor settings in the Australian capital, including retail establishments, hospitality venues, aged care facilities, workplaces and public transport.
The reinstated rules will remain in place in the ACT throughout the Christmas and New Year period. Health authorities in Canberra will then review it further in January 2022 if they ought to be extended or not. (Related: Australians furious over mask mandates for the holiday season.)
Officials noted that face masks can only be removed in three instances: while doing vigorous exercise, when communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired and when eating or drinking.
Aside from the mask mandates, visitor limits were reintroduced at aged care facilities in Canberra. Residents of aged care homes will be restricted to five visitors per day and at any one time. Visitors for end-of-life visits are exempted from this rule, with no daily limit imposed on them.
“Wearing a mask indoors is a small price to pay to keep your family and friends safe. In addition to wearing a mask indoors, we all have a responsibility to continue our COVID-safe behaviors, practice physical distancing and [maintain] good hygiene,” said ACT Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith added that “reinstating mandatory mask wearing indoors is a sensible step to mitigate the risks posed by [the] omicron [variant.] We will continue to monitor the situation over the holiday period, listen to the health advice and respond further if needed.”
NSW urged to reinstate mask mandates
The mask mandate in Canberra comes as the omicron variant spread throughout Australia. The federal capital recorded 16 new COVID-19 infections on Dec. 21, Half of the ACT’s 124 active infections have been caused by the omicron variant.
“In the past week, we have seen a significant increase in case numbers in the ACT. Around half of our active cases have been confirmed as [being caused by] the omicron variant,” Berry said.
The ACT constitutes a small enclave in the larger NSW area, and is home to the country’s federal government. NSW recorded 3,057 new COVID-19 infections on Dec. 21, the highest spike in daily infections for the entire Australia. This spike has contributed to growing pressure on the surrounding NSW to reinstate indoor mask mandates – just a week after they were scrapped.
Federal Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly wrote to premiers and chief ministers of Australia’s different states and territories, recommending that face coverings “should be mandated in all indoor settings.” ACT Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerryn Coleman agreed with Kelly’s recommendation and defended Canberra’s Dec. 21 mandate.
“The unexpected emergence at this time of omicron is posing an increasing risk to our community, and this is why we are introducing these measures. This is a common sense step. We have been here before and I don’t consider this too onerous for us to take to slow the transmission of omicron,” she said.
Coleman added: “I know this has been a long year for everyone and this is not the news we wanted to be sharing so close to Christmas.”
However, NSW officials said they are still considering whether or not to reinstate the mask mandates.
The state’s Premier Dominic Perrotet said: “We are taking a balanced and proportionate response that is completely focused on keeping people safe, while at the same time opening up our economy and ensuring that people are able to work and provide for their families.” (Related: Top NSW doctor wants to bring back COVID restrictions as cases continue to soar in highly vaccinated Australia.)
Perrotet exhorted New South Welshmen to live with the virus. “There will always be new variants of this virus. The pandemic is not going away. We need to learn to live alongside it,” he said.
Watch the footage of an NSW business owner arrested for refusing to enforce the mask mandate in her establishment.
This video is from the ZGoldenReport channel on Brighteon.com.
MedicalTyranny.com has more about mask mandates making a return in Australia amid the spread of the omicron variant.