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Benefits of workplace masks questioned
Herald Sun, Melbourne  by Kieran Rooney
13 Jan 2021
General News - Page 5 - 227 words - ID 1383767256 - Photo: No - Type: News Item - Size: 109.00cm2

EPIDEMIOLOGISTS have backed a move to ditch masks in the office, as more workers prepare to return to work.

Australian National University's Professor Peter Collignon, an expert in infectious diseases, said the benefit of people wearing masks at their desks was small while community transmission continued to be low.

"Masks decrease your risk by 20 per cent, if you have a lot of community transmission it makes a lot of difference," he said "If you don't have community transmission the value diminishes." More than 2000 respondents to a Herald Sun Facebook poll said Victoria's mask rules should be eased back to only being mandatory in supermarkets, shopping centres, Ubers and taxis, public transport and retail stores larger than 2000sq m.

About 500 people said they should not change.

As more Victorian workers get ready to head back to the office, Prof Collignon said the ideal model over the next year would be for staff to work a mixture of days at home and on site.

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Professor Nancy Baxter said Victoria's COVID-19 position had improved now no further cases were linked to the Black Rock cluster.

She said workplaces should get on top of poor ventilation to minimise the risk of outbreaks spreading. "I don't think there's going to be a time when we're not concerned in some way," she said.

KIERAN ROONEY

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