Media Release
Make masks mandatory to help avoid second lockdown
29 July, 2020

Media contact

Matt Levinson

In a statement today, the Committee for Sydney called for face masks to be made mandatory in public places in Sydney. The advocacy group said that the move would help to slow the spread of COVID-19 infections and reduce the need for Sydney to go back into lockdown.

CEO of the Committee for Sydney, Gabriel Metcalf said:

“It’s time to require masks in Sydney. Doing so now may be our best chance to avoid a second lockdown.”

“Sydney is seeing a slow increase in community transmission of COVID. The maths behind doubling rates mean that numbers can start out low and then quickly grow. Because most of the carriers are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic there is almost certainly community transmission that is not being picked up by tests. The fear is that we could be seeing the start of a true “second wave” like Melbourne has seen.”

“NSW has had an exemplary response to the pandemic and is doing an incredible job with contract tracing and testing. It may turn out that this focus on known clusters and contact tracing is enough to crush the virus. But if the numbers get large, they will overwhelm the ability of contract tracing to work. A requirement to wear masks could be an essential tool for reducing community transmission and allowing Sydney to avoid the fate of Melbourne.”

“People in Sydney are still not wearing masks. Even as COVID-19 cases in Melbourne remain intractably high, and even as we see the increase in community transmission in Sydney that may foretell a true “second wave,” a deeply ingrained cultural resistance to mask-wearing has not budged.”

“No one likes to wear masks. But we are all going to have to make some sacrifices to get through this pandemic. Wearing masks in public, indoor spaces is annoying, but it does not ask much of us.”

“The real hope here is that if enough people wear masks, we can avoid the more draconian options – avoid a second lockdown and a repeated start-stop-restart cycle which would devastate our economy and cause intense hardship with consequences for years.”

“Throughout the pandemic we have repeatedly heard the phrase ‘there are no easy choices’. This is one of those times. Getting people to wear masks isn’t the only solution, but it could play a pivotal role in driving down infections and getting NSW back to normality sooner and faster.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The Committee for Sydney is an independent think tank and champion for the whole of Sydney, providing thought leadership beyond the electoral cycle. The Committee aims to enhance the economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions that make Sydney a competitive, resilient and liveable global city. The Committee has a diverse membership with over 150 member organisations: including the major corporate sectors driving Sydney’s economy; strategically minded local authorities; key NSW Government departments and agencies; not- for-profit organisations; and leading arts and sporting institutions. Members help develop and deliver priorities, provide expertise and ensure a representative geographical spread across the greater Sydney region.