More than two years into this pandemic, WA has just hit a new record for hospitalisations and ICU admissions — so why hasn’t Premier Mark McGowan re-introduced a mask mandate?
There are a number of possible reasons.
For starters, the Premier could be working off the best health advice.
The only problem with that theory is chief health officers and doctor associations around the country, including here in WA, are calling for mask mandates.
And they’re doing that because we all know the BEST health advice is to wear a mask to reduce your risk of catching the Rona.
But don’t take my word for it, let’s see what McGowan himself said back in January when he introduced the last mask mandate.
“We know that masks have a significant impact in helping stop the spread of this virus,” the Premier said at the time.
“We need to act now, without delay.”
However, instead of acting now — and, you know, governing — the McGowan Government has essentially asked us to do them a solid by masking-up for the greater good.
It’s an ideal scenario, whereby the best health outcome is achieved without the Premier expending his slowly dwindling reserves of political capital on making us do something we don’t want to.
Except I wouldn’t hold my breath for the public to do the righty, because very few of us are afraid of the Rona anymore.
For most West Aussies, in our overwhelmingly vaxxed State, that first brush with COVID was mild, and maybe involved a couple of rough days, then nearly a week off work bingeing Netflix and smashing UberEats.
So, not only will the idea of Round 2 with the Rona fail to scare people into donning masks, some might even be tempted to lick the handrails of the escalators at Morley Galleria to catch it.
If the best health advice has gone out the window, what else could be behind McGowan’s reluctance to pull on his big boy pants and introduce a mask mandate?
Beyond the aforementioned political fallout, former AMA WA president Dr Andrew Miller made a good point on The West Live on Monday when he wondered if business leaders may have got in the Premier’s ear.
That would tie into this weird theory going around that a mask mandate would ruin the economy.
You know what ruins the economy? Thousands of workers being in seven-day isolation with COVID at the same time, or needing venue capacity limits to slow the spread.
Compared to that, a mask mandate for a few weeks is the lesser of many evils.
Given the record hospitalisations and ICU admissions right now, the increasing infection rate and the general state of the health system (which I haven’t even mentioned here but is absolutely a huge factor in a mandate decision), I’m reminded of something McGowan said earlier this year.
“We would be irresponsible if we didn’t have the most appropriate measures in place during the period where they are most required.”
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