Face-coverings will be compulsory in Victoria’s lockdown zones

Residents living or working in Victoria’s lockdown zones will need to wear a face covering or mask when leaving home or face a $200 fine.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced mandatory mask-wearing will be compulsory in the state’s lockdown zones from midnight on Wednesday night.

There are exceptions for medical, and practical reasons such as attending a bank, or running for exercise. Children under 12 do not need to wear a mask.

The new measures come into force as authorities suspect about 80 per cent of the state’s Covid-19 cases since May have been transmitted in the workplace.

According to the HeraldSun, local police and WorkSafe inspectors will be monitoring high-risk workplaces. Employers found to be deterring staff from wearing face coverings face a $9913 fine.

Face coverings are required in addition to social distancing in public spaces, workplaces and public transport.

How does this affect retail?

While last week both McDonald’s Australia and KFC had issued directives that all staff in current lockdown zones must don face masks for their shifts, now all retailers will be following suit.

Before the latest government announcement a spokesperson for KFC had said “It’s a challenging time for us all, and we’ll keep monitoring and following updates and guidelines from all government health departments.”

McDonald’s is supplying its employees with three-ply surgical masks, as to not affect the supply of N95 masks, used in hospitals.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s said “We have engaged with our employees throughout the introduction of masks and all restaurants are following strict guidelines regarding their use throughout each shift.”

The Age last week reported Chemist Warehouse requires staff in its metro stores to wear face coverings – masks and/or face shields. The pharmacy chain takes customers’ temperatures when they enter the stores.

On a larger scale, beyond the lockdown borders, the advice remains that hand washing and physical distancing remain the strongest protection against contacting the virus. Mask-wearing remains optional.

As InsideFMCG reports, Coles, Woolworths, Metcash and Aldi are united on their hygiene measures, and on Sunday issued an updated statement.

“As masks are optional, it’s not compulsory to wear one in our stores in these areas. However, if you are in any doubt, or would simply feel more comfortable, please do wear a mask when you come into store. This is the same guidance we have given to our teams, and we have provided them with masks to wear as an option,” the statement read.

“While we welcome you wearing a mask if you choose, please don’t be judgemental of others who choose not to, whether team members or other customers. It is an individual decision and we ask that you respect the choice of others.”

QUT professor of marketing and consumer behaviour Gary Mortimer told Inside FMCG that face masks present “a bit of a conundrum” for retailers.

“Shoppers have become anxious when visiting shopping centres and retail stores … and while some shoppers may see [face masks’ as a sign of effective hygiene measures being implemented, others may see these as a sign the team member is unwell,” Mortimer said.

“There is still ongoing confusion as to who should wear masks, as masks have not yet become mandatory to wear. The other issue is that shopping is essentially a social activity and masks will obscure that friendly smile from a sale assistance and possibly make the entire shopping experience anonymous.”