NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said on Sunday, August 2, that the next few weeks will “make or break” the state in its battle to keep COVID-19 under control, as she issued a strong recommendation for the use of face masks in public spaces.
Stopping short of making mask wearing compulsory, Berejiklian urged residents to cover up their faces when grocery shopping, using public transport, attending places of worship and when in areas of high community transmission.
She also encouraged any workers in “staff facing” environments, including in the hospitality and retail sectors, to wear masks.
“We are holding the line but we are at a critical phase of the pandemic,” Berejiklian said.
She said that while the situation remained critical in Victoria, it was vital for NSW to say ahead of the game.
“No border is impenetrable and while we are doing okay with our high rates of testing and observing social distancing, we must continue to maintain a good balance between keeping people safe and going about our daily lives,” she said.
The Premier said she herself would be wearing a mask while shopping and in any enclosed environment.
One of the first people to take the Premier’s advice on board was Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who posted a photograph of himself on Instagram, donning a mask to go shopping in Sydney on Sunday
“Had to pop out to pick up a few things here in Sydney, so followed the NSW Premier’s advice announced earlier today and put a mask on in the car before heading into the shops,” Morrison posted.
“It protects others that you come in contact with in enclosed areas, in particular the retail salespeople just doing their jobs.”
Woolworths pre-empted the Premer’s plea by issuing a statement late last week saying that from August 3, all customers would be urged to wear a mask when shopping at Woolworths Supermarkets, Woolworths Metro Food Stores, BIG W, Dan Murphy’s, BWS and ALH Hotels.
“Masks and face coverings are a powerful and highly visible symbol that COVID-19 is very much still with us,” a statement from Woolworths said.
“While wearing a face covering is not mandatory in NSW, we feel it’s important that collectively we make face coverings feel as normal as possible and do whatever we can to help reduce community transmission of COVID-19.
“Encouraging their use is one of the steps that we can take together to limit the spread of the virus and help keep our teams and customers safe.
“We won’t stop you from entering our stores if you don’t have a face covering with you, but we ask that if you don’t, you remain vigilant on adhering to the social distancing and health measures already in place.
“And as always, please respect our team and customers if they choose not to wear a face covering.”
Meanwhile, Shadow Health Minister, Ryan Park, is calling for things to be taken a step further, suggesting face masks should be mandatory on public transport, in supermarkets and shopping centres and in places of worship.