Australians who can’t avoid using public transport at peak times should consider wearing masks to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The nation’s top medical officials have stopped short of recommending people wear masks, but say they may choose to do so in situations where it is not feasible to maintain a 1.5m distance from others.

“The (advisory committee) has recognised that in a crowded public transport situation people may choose to wear masks when they are really up close with other people,” chief medical officer Brendan Murphy told reporters on Friday.

“We acknowledge that that is not an unreasonable thing to do, not that we’re recommending it in the general community in Australia at the moment because of the low case numbers.

“But if people do choose to wear masks they need to be careful as they are not a complete protection and they need to be worn very carefully.”

Premiers and chief ministers have agreed to a set of principles on how public transport can operate safely as coronavirus restrictions ease.

Health officials advising them say it is still best for people to avoid public transport where possible, especially at peak times.


Travel times should be staggered and good hand hygiene kept up, Professor Murphy said.

People should definitely not use public transport if they are unwell.

Trains, buses and trams and their stops will be cleaned regularly, and most governments have installed some visual guide of where people should sit or stand to maintain physical distancing.


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