Minister Ben Carroll says government ‘not considering’ mask mandates

A senior Victorian minister has confirmed whether lockdowns or mask mandates will be part of the state’s future.A senior Victorian minister has confirmed lockdowns or new mask mandates are not part of the state’s immediate future. Ben Carroll made the comments on Friday, just 24 hours after a ministerial colleague remained tight-lipped on any changes.“We are not considering mandates or lockdowns,” he told reporters. However, on Thursday, newly minted Health Minister Mary Anne Thomas said no calls had been made on re-implementing restrictions. “No decisions have been taken,” she said. “The public health team are looking at modelling and they’re consulting with their colleagues and various ideas are floated, but no ideas have been taken.“The new pandemic declaration enables me to make that decision but I have not yet made it, and I’m continuing my consultation, not just with the health team but more broadly.”Both ministers’ takes come after Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio last week said the issue was a matter of “life and death”.“The current heath advice in Victoria has with us the right settings for our state,” she said.“Conversations can happen around different states depending on their own circumstances.“Heath is too important – we’re talking about life or death here.”Victoria had strict mask rules throughout 2020 and 2021 that included months of mandatory wear in both indoor and outdoor settings.The renewed lax stance comes as Covid-related hospitalisations climbed to 629 on Friday, with 37 infected people being treated in intensive careAnother nine Victorians died with the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the state’s total pandemic death toll past 4000 earlier this week.Originally published as Minister Ben Carroll says government ‘not considering’ mask mandates