The push to mandate face masks in NSW

NSW Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Dr Danielle McMullen is calling for mandatory face masks on public transport during COVID-19.

NSW AMA Dr McMullen said the State Government should make face mask wearing mandatory on public transport, particularly on trains and buses as they are enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces where maintaining social distancing is difficult.

GP educator Elizabeth Hindmarsh said this is a new phenomenon and that we do not have the answers to what we should be doing so the recommendation is to do a lot of hand washing and social distancing and masks are another thing that can be helpful.

“At the moment the government hasn’t made that compulsory, so people are making their own decisions about that so there are a lot of face masks being worn, but it’s a personal choice in NSW at the moment,” Dr Hindmarsh said.

“If you are going to introduce mandatory…something you have got to have the evidence that it works,” she said.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant supported the call for face masks to be worn in areas where physical distancing was difficult.

“People are encouraged to wear face masks particularly in indoor settings where physical distancing is hard to maintain, such as on public transport,” Dr Chant said.

Paddington-Darlinghurst Community Working Group convenor Will Mrongovious said that it is a social responsibility for the government to give clearer face mask advice in NSW to address increased numbers of people returning to work in the CBD.

“In Sydney I have got to say mask wearing is not a big thing and the government gives mixed messages saying people will do the right thing or you know when you need to and they won’t say you have to so it’s really weird and in one instance the NSW Government has also encouraged you not to use public transport,” Mr Mrongovious said.

In a statement on September 15 Transport for NSW spokesperson said “it is encouraging to see the number of people wearing face masks while using the public transport network including Sydney Metro, has increased in recent weeks but Transport for NSW wants to see this number continue to rise.”

Currently NSW Health strongly recommends people always carry a clean face mask, for more information visit www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/face-masks

NSW Government COVID-19 face mask recommendations.