Businesses take lead on mandating masks as NSW records 17 new cases
From Monday, Wesfarmers-owned hardware chain Bunnings will compel all NSW staff to wear masks, and is asking customers to do the same. “We want to make sure we are doing everything we can,” said chief operations officer Deb Poole.
Supermarket giant Woolworths will “strongly encourage” its staff, executive team and customers in NSW and the ACT to wear face coverings in its stores. Chief executive Brad Banducci said it was important the company “lead the way in helping reduce community transmission”.
Transport for NSW also confirmed “customer facing front-line staff” are now being provided masks by the government after months of drivers being forced to buy their own or rely on donations.
“Discussions with unions on a range of matters, including the provision of face masks, have been ongoing during the evolving COVID-19 situation and will continue,” a spokeswoman said.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union division secretary David Babineau said he expected masks to be available to staff across the state by Monday.
“We’ve been advocating this since the first wave hit in March for front-facing staff in public transport,” he said. “Even though it’s not considered personal protective equipment, it’s still a crucial part of the measures available.”
Meanwhile, Ovolo Hotels staff have also been asked to wear masks, and they are being provided to any Coles employees who wish to use them.
Action by private outlets comes as Australia’s senior infection control advisers escalated their advice on face masks, with Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd recommending people in Sydney hotspots consider wearing them.
Of the 17 new coronavirus cases announced on Saturday, one was locally acquired without an identified known source, two were under investigation and six were contacts of known cases.
Two cases attended the Apollo restaurant and two cases attended the Mounties Club in Mount Pritchard. Three other cases were returned travellers in hotel quarantine, and one was a NSW resident who returned from Victoria.
NSW Health said it was able to identify a new exposure date at Mounties after accessing a confirmed case’s COVIDSafe app data. It has since revised self-isolation advice for people who attended that venue.
Venues linked to confirmed cases in recent days have included Harris Farm Markets in Leichhardt, the Australian Club on Macquarie Street and the Bavarian Restaurant in Manly.
Queensland shut its border to Greater Sydney on Saturday morning amid concern about the city’s growing number of COVID-19 cases.
Victoria recorded 397 new coronavirus cases and three deaths on Saturday, down from the record high of 723 cases recorded on Thursday, and second-highest figures on Friday with 627 cases.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews flagged more restrictions for the state but said he was not in a position to announce details.
Professor Kidd on Saturday said those who had tested positive to coronavirus but failed to self isolate were directly putting others lives’ at risk.
He described the reports of people going out while positive as “disturbing”. “If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you must stay at home,” Professor Kidd said.
Tom Rabe is Transport Reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.
Natassia is the education reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.