Yes, no er... maybe, the vexed question of wearing masks on public transport

Conundrum: To wear a face mask or not, that is the question? Photo: Marina Neil NEWCASTLE HERALD ACM
Conundrum: To wear a face mask or not, that is the question? Photo: Marina Neil NEWCASTLE HERALD ACM

As COVID - 19 restrictions lift in New South Wales many are asking the vexed question, should authorities make it compulsory for people to wear face masks on public transport?

Yes, says Member for Kogarah Chris Minns. Officially, no, says Cronulla MP and Attorney General Mark Speakman.

The public transport union wants wearing masks on buses and trains made mandatory. But some experts are taking a bet each way.

Acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly said Australian health protection committee guidance suggests masks are not needed in most circumstances for most people, most of the time.

"However, there are some times when masks can be part of a solution and one of those would be where there's a large increase in community transmission and social distancing cannot be guaranteed."

"You can't guarantee social distancing on public transport, " Labor's Chris Minns said.

"It is especially difficult to practise social distancing in the morning and afternoon peak as thousands of workers attempt to battle for space next to thousands of school kids.

"I've urged the NSW Minister for Transport to issue advice to all commuters in NSW to wear a facemask (or a face covering like a scarf) on public transport over the coming months and to investigate whether NSW should follow the lead of cities around the world and make face masks compulsory on public transport.

"I certainly don't want to inconvenience commuters or make life harder on public transport. But social distancing on public transport has routinely been breached despite the government's best efforts to avoid it."

Cronulla MP Mark Speakman, who has responsibility for the administration of justice in NSW, said he deferred to the expert medical advice being received by Australian governments from their health officers.

"Circumstances may change quickly, but there still remains no recommendation to wear face masks for the general population who are not symptomatic and not in coronavirus outbreak zones," he said.

"However, the NSW chief health officer has said that masks can be considered as an option in settings where you can't socially distance."

So, basically, it is up individuals to decide, or as one reader put it on our Facebook page, "If you think it makes you and those around you safer, wear a mask if you don't, then don't wear one."

It is up to you.


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