WA Premier Mark McGowan has urged all West Australians to go out and buy a face mask to protect against a potential outbreak of the highly infectious “mutant” UK strain of COVID-19.
While much of the east coast has been masked-up for some time now, WA has remained largely mask-free.
But on Friday, for the first time since the pandemic began, McGowan urged WA residents to buy a reusable mask and have it on standby, “just in case” of an outbreak.
‘A new beast’
“My advice to every family and every household and every person across WA is to make sure you have a reusable mask,” he said, describing the UK variant of COVID as “a new beast.”
“Make sure you have one – go and buy one. They’re out there. You can get them.
“The government has millions on hand, should we need it … but I just urge everyone in the community, please go and buy a reusable mask, just in case.”
The comments come as National Cabinet agreed to make masks compulsory on all domestic flights and all domestic airports, including Perth Airport.
Masks will not be compulsory on flights for children aged under 12 or for people granted exemptions on medical or other grounds.
Qantas confirmed passengers on all flights would be required to wear masks on Qantas and Jetstar flights from Saturday, while Virgin Australia said non-compliant passengers would be barred from boarding its flights.
‘Make sure you have one – go and buy one. They’re out there. You can get them.’
Masks are currently mandatory in some indoor spaces in Sydney and Melbourne.
In Brisbane, those living in COVID hotspots will have to wear a mask outside their home.
Call for free masks
WA Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup has called on the state government to hand out free masks to homeless and socially and economically vulnerable people.
Meanwhile, AMA WA President Andrew Miller said he was surprised it had taken the Premier so long to issue the advice.
“I absolutely think that the more virulent strain has focused their attention and actions that we would have liked to have seen from the original strain,” Dr Miller said.