It’s been a little over a year since the world learned of the covid-19 virus that emerged in China. And we’re all still dealing with the consequences.
Last year, both Australia and the Philippines went into lockdown as the outbreak evolved into a pandemic. The former seems to have eased out of it as I write this. Meanwhile, my country has yet to do the same.
Yet until the world achieves herd immunity, none of us are out of the woods yet. Sydney implemented some new covid-19 restrictions this month, and it looks like they won’t be the last ones.
AU Drivers Watch Out
Face masks have become an indispensable part of our routine. It’s only natural that we would keep some in the car, right? You wouldn’t want to have to hightail it back home after driving to the store only to realise that you haven’t got one on you.
Well, now, you’ll have to be careful about where you’ll put it. According to a new ruling, you can’t hang your mask from the rearview mirror. If you do, you’ll be fined more than AUD300 if you get caught, depending on where you are.
Queensland penalises offending drivers with a AUD311 fine, while New South Wales imposes three demerit points and a AUD349 fine. Victoria, on the other hand, has a AUD248 fine with no demerits. Other jurisdictions are also abiding by this new rule, but they have yet to list their respective penalties.
Why? As with furry dice or air fresheners, authorities say anything dangling from your rearview mirror is a safety risk. “….having a mask dangling from the rear-view mirror isn’t safe,” RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie said. “Drivers need to have a clear view of the road from all angles so they can easily spot other cars, pedestrians and cyclists. You shouldn’t have anything hanging on their mirror which could block your view – that includes your mask.”
A Silver Lining
The good news, though, is that one absolutely ridiculous covid ruling has been tossed out. While you still need to wear a face mask whenever you’re out and about, you don’t need to wear one while driving.
Initially, this was a requirement, and many Greater Brisbane residents expressed confusion as to why. Fortunately, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk updated the face mask rules when she addressed the public on the last day of the strict lockdown.
“You do not have to wear a mask if you are in your own vehicle, or if you have your family in your own vehicle,” she told reporters.
Authorities are quick to remind everyone that they should still wear masks in public places. These include shopping centres, supermarkets, retail outlets and indoor markets, as well as hospitals, aged care facilities, and places of worship.
Stay safe, mates. Keep your wits about you.