If wearing a mask in all indoor settings, whether mandatory or not, is good enough for the Prime Minister and the Chief Medical Officer, then the rest of the country should follow suit. Here in Tasmania we started masking up this week while indoors, and on the mainland the ACT brought back its own mask mandate. A mask order is also now in place in Alice Springs until 5pm on Christmas Eve. It seems probable that as the crisis deepens other jurisdictions will follow suit.
As the PM said on Wednesday, people shouldn't need to be ordered to do the right thing to protect themselves, their families, their friends and their communities; they should be responsible enough to take sensible precautionary actions themselves. Masks, as CMO Professor Paul Kelly said after the national cabinet meeting, are an effective defence against catching and transmitting the virus. "Masks work, people should wear a mask [in indoor settings]," he said. "The health advice is to wear a mask".
The Prime Minister, while he has stopped short of endorsing the reintroduction of mask mandates since the arrival of the Omicron variant, was in full agreement. Both men said that they would be wearing masks in indoor settings until Omicron is under control.
Our own Premier Peter Gutwein also took the opportunity on Wednesday to again push mask-wearing, specifically calling on NSW to reintroduce them as residents from the mainland state continue to fly into Tasmania daily.
While, as has been frequently noted by their critics, masks can be uncomfortable and inconvenient - especially now the weather is heating up - they are one of the best, cheapest, and easiest ways of reducing your own risk of catching the virus or of transmitting it to others.
The latter, given millions of us will be catching up with elderly and vulnerable relatives over Christmas - in some cases for the first time in many months or even years - is vitally important. If a simple strip of cloth can keep your beloved Nonna or Grandpa safe it is a very small price to pay.
Or, as the WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday: "You don't want to celebrate now and then grieve later".
Masks are not the only ways in which people can protect themselves and others. The simple things that we learnt to do in the earliest days of the pandemic are still powerful weapons against the virus. If that store looks a little too crowded, even if most people are masked, think again before going inside. Use QR codes wherever they are available and, of course, practice good hand hygiene. All of these are acts of respect for ourselves and our community.
The need to be self-accountable is, unfortunately, greater than ever because of the disappointing outcome of Wednesday's national cabinet meeting which failed to deliver the clarity, uniformity and leadership on mask mandates, border restrictions, testing requirements and QR codes many had been hoping for.
As the nation prepares to enjoy the Christmas break the failure of the states and territories to reach agreement on key issues has left Australians with more questions than answers and a sense of uncertainty about 2022.
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