Victoria introduces country’s toughest mask rules

Victorians are this morning waking up to the country's toughest mask rules.

It comes after acting Victorian Premier James Merlino yesterday announced some "common sense, sensible changes" in response to the Omicron strain of COVID-19, as the state recorded 2005 infections and 10 deaths.

The changes came into effect at 11:59pm yesterday — in time for Christmas Eve.

Under the new face mask rules children eight and over will be forced to wear masks indoors for the first time in the pandemic.

READ MORE: Adelaide man says 'false' jab on immunisation record has 'destroyed life'

People wearing face masks cross Collins Street in Melbourne, Australia.

These rules apply to all indoor settings across Victoria.

Masks are already mandated in areas like retail and on public transport but will now apply to all indoor settings across Victoria like restaurants, bars and also in the workplace.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 29: A general view of shoppers across three levels at a shopping mall on October 29, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. COVID-19 restrictions have eased further in Melbourne as Victoria achieves its vaccine target of 80 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccination. From 6pm on Friday face masks are no longer required outdoors, people can travel freely around the state and retail, entertainment venues and gyms can reopen for fully vaccinated patrons. Density lim

Victorians will also have to wear masks at major events at 30,000 but not while seated outdoors and are being encouraged to work from home over the holiday period.

There were 10 cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant identified in Victoria on Wednesday, taking the total number of confirmed cases in Victoria to 71.

Health Minister Martin Foley said hospitality venues were advised to stick to seated service and to only operate dance floors in well-ventilated outdoor areas.

Mr Merlino urged all eligible Victorians to get their booster COVID-19 vaccine.

READ MORE: Mask mandate and density limits reintroduced in NSW

People queuing outside the COVID testing site on Bourke Street in Melbourne.

Despite the suite of restrictions Mr Merlino promised the state was not heading into a lockdown.

"This is the commitment that we gave to the people of Victoria," he said.

"The promise was if you go and get vaccinated, you can enjoy Christmas and New Year with your families and loved ones and that's exactly what will happen."

It comes as New South Wales also reintroduced a suite of restrictions in a bid to curb growing case numbers.

The state recorded 5715 new infections with Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant confirming 80 per cent of coronavirus cases in NSW are Omicron.

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