PHARMACISTS are urging Wimmera residents to be patient and not to view masks as a replacement for social distancing and hand hygiene.
It follows Premier Daniel Andrews announcing on Thursday wearing masks while outside will be mandatory for every Victorian from 11.59 pm on Sunday, a measure to slow the spread of coronavirus. Prior to this, only Melbourne and Mitchell Shire residents, still in Stage Three lockdown, were required to do this.
Priceline Horsham's Cobie McQueen said while it had been busy on Thursday, it was no different to the rest of the week.
"Since St Brigid's College went into lockdown it's been busy, but it got busier again after the announcement," she said. "It has de finitely caused heightened anxiety: Everyone just wants to make sure they are doing the right thing by the Sunday cutoff.
"We are limiting to one packet per person at the moment to make sure we've got enough to go around. At the moment we've got single-use masks, but we have had locals make reusable masks as well. We are hoping to get more of those in the coming days."
Ms McQueen said people wanting to donate masks could visit the store. "The reusable asks are three layers of 100 per cent cotton," she said.
"It's important when you're putting your mask on and taking it off to wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer, and you have to make sure it covers your mouth, nose and chin and fits firmly around your face so drops can't get in.
"Masks are a great additional barrier, but they don't replace social distancing and washing your hands."
Owner Bianca Inkster says Amcal Horsham will not be limiting the number of masks people can buy in a single purchase.
"It's fantastic people are trying to get organised, and we had plenty of stock up until about 4 pm. Now I think I don't have many boxes of 50 left, but I have 900 boxes coming tomorrow so I will have plenty of supplies for the weekend," she said.
"Most people only want two or three (boxes) and they are buying for family, and I don't think you can put a limit on that. We sell disposable and cloth masks made to the DHHS pattern."
Ms Inkster said people could be asked to wait outside the store to ensure a maximum of 20 people were in there at any one time.
"We've been supplying masks through people's home care packages: People like Community Options will come in with a purchase order and I give them a box and charge the facility looking after them."
At Terry White Chemmart Horsham, pharmacist Stuart Hall said the pharmacist had sold out but this could change on the weekend.
"We sold hundreds today," he said. "We've been selling them in small packets, but then we've had people come in looking for 50 or 100 for their workplace, and the workplace will shut down if they don't get the masks.
"Just be patient. I think within a fortnight everyone will have too many masks. We had this problem three months ago with flu shots, then again with hand sanitiser, and we won't run out of either of those again."
The Department of Health and Human Services states a face covering is not required in some circumstances including:
- Infants and children under the age of 12 years.
- A person who is affected by a relevant medical condition - including problems with their breathing, a serious condition of the face, a disability or a mental health condition.
- Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
- Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to that person's health and safety-related to their work, as determined through OH&S guidelines.
- Persons whose professions require clear enunciation or visibility of their mouth. This includes teaching or live broadcasting.
- Professional sportspeople when training or competing.
- When the individual is doing any exercise or physical activity where they are out of breath or puffing; examples include jogging or running but not walking. You must carry a face covering on you and wear it when you finish exercising.
- When directed to remove the face covering to ascertain identity.
- The person is travelling in a vehicle by themselves or with other members of their household.
- When consuming food, drink or medication.
- When undergoing dental treatment or other medical care to the extent that the procedure requires that no face covering may be worn.
- During emergencies.
"You must carry a face covering with you when leaving home for one of the four reasons, even if you don't need to wear it while undertaking your current activity, for example, you can take your face covering off to eat," its website says.
At Holy Trinity Lutheran College, principal Daniel Weller said students aged 12 years and older would be required to wear masks form Monday, and that they had been encouraged to do this and to socially distance since school returned.
"We had bought face masks that we bought staff at the start of the term, so we were always thinking the best minimisation strategy was to put that into place. anyone on site for a meeting with the staff member is also provided with a mask at reception," he said.
The Mail-Times has contacted Horsham College and St Brigids College, the latter of which has students learning from home after one tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month, for comment.
Brittany's experience getting used to mask life in Melbourne
Brittany Nitschke, a former Horsham resident now living in Brunswick West, has been used to seeing masks everywhere she goes since the start of this month.
She was in one of the 10 Melbourne postcodes that went back into lockdown before anywhere else in Victoria.
"I work at a police station, and they supply masks here, so we go through a lot every day. My housemate works at a doctor's clinic so she gets supplied them as well, but I can understand why there would be a rush for them in Horsham," she said.
"We are required to change masks every four hours, so one in the morning and one in the afternoon, but given members when they are out and about would have more, we are going through 50 to 70 masks per day.
"There are masks and homemade masks out there that aren't as protective as surgical ones that pharmacies and doctors give out."
Ms Nitschke said it wasn't a shock to the system to see so many people wearing masks after the rule came into effect for her area. Quite the opposite.
"Before everyone was wearing masks, people were just choosing to. now when we don't see people do that you feel like 'Oh they're not wearing a mask, they're not doing the right thing'," she said.
"It is rare now to go outside and see someone not wearing one, so I think everyone is doing well abiding by the rules, and now it just feels normal for me to put a mask on when I go to work or anywhere else essential. It's just a bit crazy."
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