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AMA fears masks off on public transport

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With commuters in all but one Australian state no longer required to wear masks on public transport, doctors warn ditching the mandate will have consequences.

On Wednesday, NSW and Queensland join South Australia, WA, Tasmania and the NT in not requiring passengers on public transport to mask up.

Masks remain mandatory on public transport for people aged 12 and older in the ACT.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said removing the mask mandate was a common-sense approach, bringing the rules into line for people travelling on buses, trains, ride-share vehicles, taxis and planes.

NSW Health still recommends people wear masks where they cannot physically distance and in settings where there are vulnerable people.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath is asking commuters to wear masks when appropriate.

“There are still directions. If you are someone who has been isolating, after your five days you are requested to wear masks,” she said.

In Victoria, public transport passengers must wear a mask unless they have a valid exemption, with a $100 penalty for those in breach.

Australian Medical Association president Steve Robson said governments continued to make serious decisions with no consultation and no discussion.

“This is a major decision which will have consequences, and it should have been done with national consensus and clear health guidance,” he said.

“Masks kept us safe from infection when we didn’t have a vaccine, and they continue to be an effective, low-cost, low-hassle and proven way to protect ourselves and others.”

Professor Robson said COVID-19 was still very serious, particularly for vulnerable populations, and was deadly for many people.

“Restrictions are being loosened, including time in isolation, and we still don’t have any sign this was based on medical evidence,” he said.

Prof Robson said the decision came at a time when worrying data was still being released, including in relation to aged care.

“Many of our most vulnerable people in the community are the ones that use public transport the most,” he said.

“Masks are the last of the sensible protections, and we urge people not to abandon using them.”

– AAP



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