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Kimberley Caines: Forget ‘influencing’… it’s time to mandate masks

Here we go again.

Our third pandemic year.

Our third wave.

Just when we thought life was finally getting back to normal, a more infectious strain of Omicron has come along to interfere.

Hospitals are overstretched, work places are filled with empty seats, and the economy is taking another whack.

More than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Australia yesterday and 6815 of those were in WA.

Imagine the real figure with health authorities saying people are not testing or can’t be bothered to lodge their positive test result with State and Territory governments.

Infections are predicted to get much worse in the coming weeks, yet we have hardly any restrictions anywhere in the country *scratches head*.

Why are masks not mandated again? They are recommended but not enforced.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said he was trying to play a “leadership role” by wearing a mask to a press conference in Canberra yesterday.

“We know that wearing masks do reduce the spread and protect yourself and protect others if you’re away from home and indoors in a crowded place — I really very strongly suggest that you do wear masks,’’ he said.

“I am wearing a mask now. You will have noticed the (Health) Minister (Mark Butler) is wearing a mask as well. This is our leadership role for the community. This will not be forever but for the next few weeks. This is the way we can actually influence.”

Instead of “influencing” or showing “leadership”, mandate it.

Scott Morrison was criticised for acting too slowly with his pandemic response. The same is happening now.

Just this time we know what measures actually work. Masks. He said it himself.

Also, what happened to social distancing?

I would never call for closed borders (they have too many impacts on people’s mental health and the tourism industry) but simple, easy measures need to be brought back in to slow the spread.

I really feel for our businesses that are struggling to have adequate staff at work due to thousands being off with the virus.

Mandates could prevent cases in the first place.

I welcome the news from health experts yesterday, urging employees to work from home if possible.

This keeps people in work and also helps reduce transmission of COVID.

There’s also some relief today for those not entitled to sick leave if they contract coronavirus.

The tap to the Federal Government’s $750-a-week relief payment has been turned back on until at least September 30.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was forced to do a backflip and reinstate the pandemic payment after meeting with State and Territory leaders for an emergency National Cabinet meeting on the weekend.

He couldn’t expect people to abide by the rules and isolate at home for seven days and not earn an income.

But there’s a catch — you must use up sick leave and have less than $10,000 in the bank to be eligible.

So the Government is now offering support to workers, but is it doing enough to slow the spread of the virus?

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