Mask mandate should be scrapped on NSW public transport, taxis and ride-sharing services

Mask mandates will be scrapped on public transport, taxis and ride-sharing services in New South Wales from this week.

Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet called the shake-up to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions a “common sense approach.”

The mask mandate will officially be removed on Wednesday, September 21.

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Masks will also be discarded in transportation waiting areas and interior areas of cruise terminals.

Wearing a mask in these settings is still recommended by NSW Health when physical distancing is not possible “and in settings where there are vulnerable people and those at high risk of serious illness”, but it will no longer be applied.

Masks will still be required on public transport under Victoria’s eased restrictions. Credit: AAP

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said masks still play an important role in reducing the risk of transmission.

“Continuing to wear a mask in crowded areas will be especially important for people who have underlying health conditions or who are vulnerable to COVID infection for other reasons,” Hazzard said.

“Wearing a mask in these environments will not only protect those around you, but also reduce your risk of infection.”

Transport Minister David Elliott said he welcomed the decision to align the mask mandate for commuters with arrangements in other states, domestic travel, places and events.

“Everyone has demonstrated throughout this pandemic that they will do what is necessary to protect themselves and themselves from COVID and I have no doubt they will continue to do so,” Elliott said.

“Commuters will be delighted to hear this news as they will now be able to make a personal decision and have a choice of when they wear a mask – especially in outdoor public transport areas.”

Wearing a mask remains compulsory in public hospitals, private health establishments and residences for the elderly.

South Australia is also on the move

Commuters in South Australia will also no longer be legally required to wear masks on public transport after the state government announced it would also drop the mandate on Tuesday.

South African Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas said his government was determined to ease restrictions as soon as it was safe to do so.

“We think this is another practical step forward,” Malinauskas said.

Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas has announced relaxed mask rules and the mothballing of QR code recordings. Credit: AAP

The move comes more than a week after Western Australia scrapped its public transport mask mandates.

But not all states are ready to get rid of the mandate, commuters in Queensland are still required to wear a mask and Victoria cracked down on the restriction this month, issuing more than 100 fines and 181,000 warnings to commuters.

Under Victoria’s pandemic orders, passengers on public transport must wear a fitted face mask covering their nose and mouth unless they have a valid exemption. The penalty for not wearing a mask is $100.

“Our aim remains to educate Victorians rather than impose fines, which is why we have distributed almost 160,000 face masks to passengers on public transport,” a Victorian government spokesman said.

“Public transport operators continue to ensure mask compliance and additional masks have been made available to customers traveling on our public transport network.”

– With PAA

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