Children over 12 should wear masks: Premier

Michelle Slater

All Victorian secondary school students will be required to wear face masks, with the government promising to distribute them ready for when mandatory mask rules come into effect for regional Victorians on Monday.

Speaking with regional media this afternoon, Premier Daniel Andrews also said a $200 penalty will apply to anyone in regional Victoria not wearing a face mask or covering.

It comes as Victoria recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic to-date, with 723 new COVID-19 infections reported overnight.

Of those, 255 were in regional Victoria, with 159 of them in the Geelong corridor.

Mr Andrews said anyone over the age of 12 should wear masks to school, following advice from the Chief Health Officer.

He said the rules also applied uniformly to Catholic, independent and government schools.

“It will not be any different to the way things operate in metro Melbourne at the moment,” Mr Andrews said.

“The age key factor is 12. Any younger than this, you shouldn’t be wearing a mask.

“This will be by-and-large secondary schools, but we will not be going around and finding 12-year-olds in Grade 6.”

He said teachers must also wear masks “where appropriate”.

“It’s not always appropriate based on being able to see the teacher’s facial expression and their ability to communicate,” Mr Andrews said.

“It’s about applying common sense and a shared commitment.”

He said the state government was working to distribute masks to regional Victorian schools within the next two or three days, with a lead-in to Monday.

“So, it’s not like this will come into effect when the bell goes tomorrow morning. I’m confident that via our regional office networks and other partnerships we can get single-use and reusable masks out,” he said.

Mr Andrews stressed that face coverings such as scarves or bandanas are also acceptable and encouraged people to look online for patterns to make their own.

“Our secondary students are an impressive group, there are lots of creative things being done in Melbourne. I’m pretty sure all this will be replicated in regional Victoria as well,” he said.