Commuters will no longer be forced to wear masks on public transport in Victoria, with the strict Covid-19 rule finally set to ease this week in line with other states.
Masks will no longer be required on public transport – including taxis, rideshare services and tourism vehicles – from 11.59pm on Thursday.
It will instead be strongly recommended to wear a mask, in line with the existing indoor mask recommendations.
The state government said it was a “sensible step to ensure national consistency”, noting Covid-19 case numbers were well below their winter peak.
Masks continue to be strongly recommended indoors, in situations where people cannot physically distance, for people who have any Covid-19 symptoms and for anyone who may be immunocompromised or vulnerable to the virus.
Anyone visiting a hospital, care facility or any other indoor space which is publicly accessible in a healthcare setting will still be required to wear a mask.
Masks will also remain necessary if you have Covid-19, or are a close or household contact and are not required to quarantine.
“These sensible changes provide consistency for the community on mask wearing requirements and I thank the chief health officer for his advice on this matter,” Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said.
“As we move to living with Covid, it’s important we ensure enduring behaviour change in the community – and that means giving people the choice to wear masks to protect themselves and those around them.
“It’s vitally important that Victorians stay up to date with their Covid vaccinations, to help prevent serious illness and to ease pressure on the health system.”
The decision comes after the state government faced mounting pressure to ease the mask rules.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews dropped a hint on Tuesday, saying his government had “always sought to be nationally consistent” on public health policy.
“We look at these matters every single day,” Mr Andrews told reporters.
Other states, including NSW, South Australia and Western Australia, have already tweaked their mask rules.