Facemask fines for Sydney residents could become into law after a concerning drop in use across the public transport network.
As reported by news.com.au, NSW public transport users could soon be slapped with Facemask fines after a dramatic drop in mask use sparked concern from health officials.
With a wave of employees expected to return to the office next month, public transport use is expected to increase significantly, prompting the Government to plead with passengers to wear a mask to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
A government source told the Sydney Morning Herald that mask use had dropped to 15 percent in some parts of Sydney, compared to the 30 to 40 percent it was halfway through the year.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard warned if commuters didn’t start taking health advice around masks seriously then penalties could be introduced.
“There is just no way you should be on public transport without a mask. Wear a mask. It keeps you safe, but it keeps everybody else safe. It’s critical,” he said.
“I stress that because at no stage have we wanted to impose fines on people but it will become necessary if people don’t lift their game in wearing masks on public transport.
“We’re asking you at the moment, but in the strongest possible terms.”
NSW has so far avoided following in Victoria’s footsteps and introducing mandatory face masks. Victorians are now no longer required to wear a mask while outdoors if they can remain 1.5m from others.
However, they are still required to wear masks if they can’t maintain social distancing outdoors and must still wear one indoors in public or on public transport.
Facemask fines for not wearing a mask in Victoria is $200.
The facemask fines warning comes after it was announced that the public health order requiring employers to allow employees to work from home where possible will be scrapped on December 14. Employers have been encouraged to stagger staff start and finishing times in order to reduce the impact on public transport, but there is still expected to be a major spike in commuters next month. In order to assist with more passengers, the capacity for trains will be increased from 44 to 55 percent next, buses will increase from 38 to 45 percent and the capacity on ferries will jump from 36 to 51 percent.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has reignited calls for people to wear masks in situations where they can’t socially distance, particularly on public transport. “It’s just vital as we see more people, particularly in the peak periods, start to return to workplaces and office spaces,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We want people wearing masks – there’s not enough people doing it – and I’m pleading with the community to do it.”
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