Australian city makes mask-wearing compulsory

Australia's second-biggest city has made it compulsory to wear a mask in public as Melbourne steps up efforts to bring a coronavirus outbreak under control, SIA reports.

Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, now has nearly 3,000 active cases of Covid-19 after a further 363 infections were reported Sunday despite a 10-day lockdown. Premier Daniel Andrews said more than five million people in Melbourne and neighbouring Mitchell Shire would be required to wear a mask or other face-covering in public spaces from midnight Wednesday into Thursday.

Failure to comply with the new rule will mean a Aus$200 ($140) fine – though Andrews said "common sense" discretion would be applied to activities such as running or visiting a bank. The decision makes Melbourne the first place in the country to mandate the use of face-coverings. Mask-wearing is not common in Australia and has not been part of the country's Covid-19 response until now.

Australia has reported almost 12,000 cases of Covid-19 nationwide and 122 deaths in a population of about 25 million.

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