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Victoria won't rule out new mandates as COVID risk looms

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A potential third wave of COVID-19 has prompted Victoria’s new health minister to refuse to rule out a return to working from home and mask-wearing.

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The Victorian government renewed pandemic laws for another three months to October on Tuesday, continuing its power to reintroduce mandates.

Mary-Anne Thomas, who was last month sworn in as the state’s fourth health minister in four years, says while the declaration allows her to make those decisions, she hasn’t made any yet.

“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,” she said on Thursday.

Rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations have sparked fears of a fresh wave of the virus.

The possibility of future lockdowns or curfews has prompted a backlash from the state opposition.

Businesses, shoppers, workers and communities needed certainty, not the prospect of future mandates, Liberal MP David Southwick said.

“It’s clear (Premier) Daniel Andrews’ ongoing emergency powers are damaging Victoria’s reputation and holding back our recovery,” he said.

There couldn’t be certainty under endless emergency declarations, Southwick said.

-AAP

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