Minister Ben Carroll says government ‘not considering’ mask mandates

A senior Victorian minister has confirmed whether lockdowns or mask mandates will be part of the state’s future.

A senior Victorian minister confirmed that lockdowns or new mask-wearing mandates are not part of the state’s immediate future.

Ben Carroll made the comments on Friday, just 24 hours after his fellow minister remained silent on any changes.

“We are not considering mandates or blocking,” he told reporters.

However, new health secretary Mary Ann Thomas said on Thursday that there had been no calls for a reintroduction of restrictions.

“No decisions have been made,” she said.

“The public health team is modeling, consulting with their colleagues, various ideas are being put forward, but none of them have been implemented.

“The new pandemic declaration allows me to make this decision, but I have not yet made it and I continue to consult not only with the health team, but more broadly.”

Both ministers spoke after Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said last week that the issue was a matter of “life and death.”

“The current health council in Victoria has the right settings for our state,” she said.

“Conversations can take place around different states depending on their own circumstances.

“Health is too important – it’s about life or death.”

Victoria had strict mask-wearing guidelines in 2020 and 2021, which included months of mandatory wearing both indoors and outdoors.

The renewed weakness comes as Covid-related hospitalizations rose to 629 on Friday, with 37 infected in intensive care.

Nine more Victorians have died from the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll from the pandemic in the state to over 4,000 earlier this week.

Originally published as Minister Ben Carroll says government ‘not considering’ mask mandates