Officials are pushing to keep one hated Covid rule in place in NSW even after the state hits 95 per cent vaccine coverage.
Health officials are pushing for masks to remain mandatory even after NSW hits its 95 per cent vaccination target.
While the state gears up to relax restrictions on December 15, the last-minute push from public health officials for mandatory mask-wearing comes amid fears infections will spike over the holiday period.
NSW has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, second to the ACT, but some are worried Covid-19 could spread in retail settings in the lead up to Christmas.
The current rules state masks must be worn in common areas of apartment buildings, supermarkets and retail stores.
But it is believed they are set to be removed when unvaccinated residents are given the same freedoms as those with the jab on December 15.
However some NSW Health officials are pushing to keep masks mandatory for even longer, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it is “understandable” for the mask-wearing rule to remain as officials focus on reducing the chance of spread.
“At times like the mad retail rush we’ll see at Black Friday and Christmas it becomes pretty clear why Health will be likely to have continuing concerns,” he said.
It is believed Premier Dominic Perrottet is going to face a divided party room over the issue.
The rule is set to be debated at a meeting of the Cabinet’s Covid-19 subcommittee on Thursday.
Senior ministers are believed to discuss whether restrictions can be eased faster than previously expected.
“Any potential changes to the road map will take into account the evolving nature of the pandemic and consider the relevant health, safety and economic advice,” a spokesman for Mr Perrottet said.
The Premier has previously made his feelings on masks clear when asked about changing the rules.
“You know, I hate wearing masks as much as the next person,” he said.
Masks are not required in offices but must be worn while ordering coffee in an office cafeteria.
NSW Health in a statement said they are “particularly effective in indoor settings”.
“Wearing masks in indoor settings and on public transport provides an important layer of protection from Covid-19 transmission, as it does in other settings where physical distancing may not be possible or is difficult,” a NSW Health spokeswoman said.