CANBERRA – There were few bare faces among rush-hour commuters in Australia’s second-largest city on Thursday morning as Melbourne residents were largely complying with a new law making face coverings compulsory.
Melbourne and neighboring semi-rural Mitchell Shire are coronavirus hot spots that have been in lockdown for two weeks. Wearing a mask or face covering in public became mandatory for Melbourne’s 5 million residents from 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.
“I don’t really enjoy wearing it, I mean, I’m asthmatic as well. So ... I’m not a huge fan of wearing it,” masked commuter Cameron Strange said at busy Southern Cross train station in downtown Melbourne.
“But if it means that we’re saving lives in the community, then we just got to suck it up and do it,” he added.
Café owner Maria Iatrou said wearing masks has been the norm for days, so any change on Thursday was imperceptible.
“Very few people were wearing no mask before this morning,” Iatrou said. “Masks have become a massive thing, there are so many available to buy on the street.”
She said she saw people talking into their jackets because they don’t have a mask with them — “basically making sure that the collar of their jacket is over their mouth.”
Melbourne residents are becoming increasing concerned by the pandemic while most parts of Australia have virtually no new cases and have relaxed restrictions. Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, posted a 24-hour record 484 new cases on Wednesday. A state record five deaths was announced on Thursday.