The Australian island state of Tasmania, with zero COVID-19 cases, is mandating masks for big outdoor events

·3 min read
Fans arrive for the 2021 AFL First Elimination Final match between the Western Bulldogs and the Essendon Bombers at University of Tasmania Stadium on August 29, 2021 in Launceston, Australia.
Fans arrive for the 2021 AFL First Elimination Final match between the Western Bulldogs and the Essendon Bombers at University of Tasmania Stadium on August 29, 2021 in Launceston, Australia. Grant Viney/AFL Photos via Getty Images
  • Tasmania, an Australian state with zero current COVID-19 cases, has introduced a new mask mandate.

  • People at indoor or outdoor events of more than 1,000 people will need a mask from September 18.

  • Officials said it was a "common sense" way to stop an infected person passing on COVID-19.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

People in Tasmania, Australia, will need masks for large outdoor events such as sports matches, despite the island state recording zero current COVID-19 cases.

Officials announced Friday that masks would be compulsory - regardless of vaccination status - from midnight on September 18 for both outdoor and indoor events of more than 1,000 people.

Peter Gutwein, premier of Tasmania, said in a statement Friday that it was a "common sense approach" to stop COVID-19 spreading, should an infected person be present at events where social-distancing can be difficult.

Mark Veitch, Tasmania's director of Public Health, said in a briefing that requiring masks gave him and "others approving these events some comfort that there's a step been taking to mitigate the risk of those large numbers of people assembling and we can more confidently enable those events to proceed."

"We want to enable events to occur from here onwards as we increase our vaccination coverage and we want to be able to do it in an increasingly risky environment," he said, as reported by ABC.

Zero COVID-19 cases

Nobody in Tasmania has COVID-19, according to state data.

The state, with a population of more than 540,000, has recorded 235 COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to government statistics. It has an infection rate less than one tenth of New South Wales - home to Australia's capital Sydney, according to government data.

In the US, which has far more COVID-19 cases per person than Australia, most states do not have a mask mandate, including for large outdoor events.

Officials also announced Friday that vaccines would be mandatory for health workers and anyone else that provides private or public health care, such as Department of Health employees. The aim is to vaccinate at least 80% of the population before the end of October, they said.

Tasmania, located off the south-east coast of Australia, has the second-highest vaccine rate of any Australian state, having fully vaccinated 47.8% of its population, according to national statistics.

Australia's average is 32.6%, according to Johns Hopkins University. For comparison, roughly 54% of Americans are fully vaccinated.

Tasmania's borders remain shut to certain Australian states, including New South Wales, Victoria, and Australian Capital Territory, but are open to the rest of the country.

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