Face masks made mandatory across Victoria

MANDATORY: A of midnight Sunday, it will be mandatory for Victorians to wear face masks when they leave their home.
MANDATORY: A of midnight Sunday, it will be mandatory for Victorians to wear face masks when they leave their home.

From midnight this Sunday face masks will be made mandatory for all Victorians who leave their home.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement today, as the state recorded its highest daily increase, with 723 new cases diagnosed overnight, including 13 deaths.

The decision to make it mandatory across the whole state was based on advice from the Chief Health Officer professor Brett Sutton.

People who refuse to wear a mask while outdoors could be subjected to a $200 fine by Victorian Police.

Mr Andrews stated enforcing regional Victorians to wear masks outdoors will provide a "significant" public health benefit.

"It's something we can do in regional Victoria without causing significant economic cost but getting a significant public health benefit," Mr Andrews said.

He also stated many people in regional Victoria were already wearing masks.

"We have low numbers in regional Victoria and we want to jealously guard that," Mr Andrews said.

While most Victorian cases are based in metro areas, there has been a significant increase in regional communities.

"It's vital we stop this virus further seeping into regional Victoria," he said.

"I understand this will a big step for some. But by covering your face, you're protecting your community, and protecting those extra freedoms your community enjoys.

"By covering your face, you're keeping local businesses open, and keeping local people in work."

There are 255 new active cases in regional Victoria, 159 of which are in six local government areas -- Colac-Otway, Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains, and the Borough of Queenscliffe.

For the West Wimmera Shire, as of Wednesday, there is only one confirmed case of the virus.

On Wednesday, Professor Brett Sutton would not say if COVID-19 cases had peaked despite speculation the worst might be behind the state.

"There is nothing else to consider here. We have to watch the numbers every day," he said.

"So I certainly wouldn't say we have definitely passed the peak."