“Imposition on individual freedom”: are masks still necessary in all public places? | The Examiner

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Mask-wearing will continue to be a feature of public life in Tasmania for at least the next month, with public health unable to provide an end date for its protective mandate. New South Wales has dropped its indoor mask-wearing mandate, where masks must now only be worn on public transport, in hospitals and aged care facilities, at airports and on planes, in prisons and major indoor music festivals. Tasmanian lawyer and human rights campaigner Greg Barns said it was time to rethink Tasmanian laws, including the mask mandate, which required people to behave in a particular way. He said wearing a mask should now become voluntary, not mandatory. “One of the hallmarks of this pandemic is that the rights of individuals have been subordinated to the collective good,” Barns said. “Wearing a mask is an imposition on individual freedom and while it can be extremely useful, you must constantly assess whether or not they remain necessary. We must consider the need for these inroads to continue, and with regard to masks, the question now is whether or not masks are still used in all settings,” he said. “It should be a matter of choice in all settings other than high-risk ones.” But Tess Moody, head of policy for Women Disabilities of Australia, said wearing a mask remained an important protection for people with disabilities or with underlying medical conditions. “People with disabilities are really frustrated by the stories of the ‘let’s just give up’ masks and get on with our lives,'” Ms. Moody said. “Some people with disabilities who are immunocompromised cannot even access vaccinations due to medical issues, e t masks are therefore only an option. Prime Minister Peter Gutwein said Tasmania has always taken a cautious approach when it comes to COVID, “and we need to continue to protect members of the community who are more vulnerable”. Deputy Director of Public Health Scott McKeown said current health and social measures are keeping transmission of the virus to a minimum. He could not provide a date when the mask mandate would likely be “We want to make sure we continue to maintain this level of slow transmission in the community, which is very important until we have a rate much higher recall”.