Regional Victorians are on the edge of greater social freedoms as we near the 'third step' of the roadmap, but it looks like our new must-have accessories are here to stay.
From early August, all Victorians have had to wear a face mask, or another sort of face covering, whenever they leave the house.
With more people set to venture outdoors as restrictions ease, a DHHS spokesperson told the Mail-Times that face coverings would remain compulsory not only in the third step but for a while to come.
"Masks will remain a tool in our fight against coronavirus for the foreseeable future," they said.
"We have seen that there is more and more evidence to support the use of masks in slowing the spread of coronavirus. They are relatively inexpensive, accessible, and not too much of an imposition.
"We expect that they will continue to be a part of our daily lives for some time to come."
Under the third step, reasons to leave home will be removed, restrictions on visitors eased and larger outdoor gatherings allowed.
In late-August, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said masks could become a part of daily life.
"Masks will have to be part and parcel of our lives for some time after stage four (in Melbourne)," he said.
"It's clear they are not always comfortable, they're not always convenient, but they are effective.
"If we've got no community transmission whatsoever then I'm not going to be recommending masks beyond that.
"But there are other levels we can get to where maybe we don't require masks in all settings at all times."
There are lawful exceptions for not wearing a face covering, including:
- Infants and children under 12 years of age
- A person who is affected by a relevant medical condition
- Persons who are deaf of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential
- If you are working on your own property, with no other staff or contractors on site
- When you are doing exercise or physical activity where you are out of breath or puffing
In late-August, Premier Daniel Andrews said Victorians would have to become used to some level of restrictions until a vaccine is secured.
"There will be rules of one sort or another in place for the foreseeable future," the Premier said.
"We're going to be wearing masks for a longer period into stage four, we're going to be washing our hands more often (and) we're going to be keeping our distance."