Newly elected Premier Peter Malinauskas has announced an end to mandatory mask wearing in South Australia from April 14.
“The mask mandates will be removed. They’ll still be required in certain high-risk settings like aged care environments and the like, but the general masks mandates applying throughout the state, we are looking forward to those being removed,” Mr Malinauskas said.
There are, however, a number of people in our community who disagree with the Premier’s decision.
Local resident and leukemia patient Lou de Leeuw fears his health would be at risk, and his social life curtailed, if the mask mandate is lifted.
According to Lou, “Removal of a face mask mandate (compliance from our observation is sketchy enough currently) would increase my risk and my partner’s risk incredibly, resulting in contracting COVID-19 if we do go out, or forced imprisonment if we don’t.”
And Lou has some important backing for his concerns. Professor Adrian Esterman, Chair of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of South Australia, thinks that the removal of the face mask mandate is not a good step.
“It leaves a large number of vulnerable people at greater risk,” says Professor Esterman. “When the next new variant comes along it will need to be reimposed.
“Face masks also protect us against influenza.” He points out that there is ample evidence that face masks protect both the wearer and other people, when used in a community setting.
Professor Esterman has written to Peter Malinauskas suggesting that it would be a mistake to remove the mandate.
Professor Esterman offered this advice for anyone concerned about the end of mandatory mask wearing.
“You will need to be careful, preferably wear a KN95 or P2 mask (or if nothing else, a surgical mask) when you do go out, and get the second booster shot as soon as you can.
“You don’t have to live like a hermit, but you should assess your own risk and take the necessary precautions.”