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Nine new cases recorded in the capital but active cases fall

Nine new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the ACT but the total number of active cases has fallen.

ACT Health reported on Sunday the active cases total stood at 390, down from 400 on Saturday, when 24 new cases were confirmed.

There have now been 1586 infections from the Delta outbreak in the capital so far.

As of 8pm Saturday, 20 cases were in hospitals, including 11 in intensive care and four on ventilators.

The outbreak caused the ACT to be plunged into lockdown in mid-August and while that officially ended on October 15, various restrictions remain in place including no more than five people visiting another household at any one time, excluding children.

No more than 25 people are allowed at outdoor gatherings.

But Canberra’s non-essential retail stores reopened to the public on Friday, Year 11 and 12 students returned to classrooms last week and on Monday, early childhood education and care facilities will reopen.

Camera IconHealth Minister Greg Hunt refused to say when the ‘stupid’ outdoor mask rule will ease. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

The gradual easing of restrictions comes as the ACT leads the nation on vaccination rates, with 95 per cent of the population having received their first dose and more than 86 per cent double jabbed.

Commonwealth Health Minister Greg Hunt came under fire from a reporter at a press conference on Sunday, asked bluntly why the “stupid” face masks outdoor rule remained despite such impressive jab rates.

Mask rules in the ACT are set by the territory government, not federal authorities.

“No limit has been put on these people to say when they can take the masks off, so where would you set it? Is 90 per cent not enough?” the reporter asked.

“My goal has to have Australia return to normal and natural rights and freedoms … those freedoms include the freedom of movement, the freedom of movement across state borders, to visit parents and children, to be there for births and deaths and weddings, and all the great events of life, or just to be together,” Mr Hunt said.

“Those are profound human rights,” the reporter shot back.

“And the absence of those is an emergency measure never a permanent measure,” the minister returned.

The ACT’s roadmap shows face masks will only be required for indoors from October 29.

The rule will ease further on November 26, when masks will be mandatory for high-risk indoor settings.

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