LOCAL MP Melina Bath has called on Premier Daniel Andrews to make masks optional in Victoria.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region made the call in state parliament this week.

Ms Bath said many people in eastern Victoria continued to ask her when masks would no longer be mandatory.

“With zero cases in Gippsland, a 14-day rolling average of 0.4 cases and no recorded community transmission in Victoria, mandatory mask wearing in all situations has become unnecessary,” Ms Bath said on Tuesday, November 10.

“Gippslanders have been magnificent doing their bit to achieve a COVID-free status, however, many are suffering COVID fatigue and would like to see mask wearing become optional.

“Masks play a role when people are unable to physically distance such as visiting the supermarket and hardware store or travelling on public transport.”

Ms Bath said leading epidemiologists and infection control experts consistently say masks only play a role when there is widespread community transmission. Australian National University (ANU) infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon recently said: “Masks have a place when there is transmission… but wearing masks outside is not going to make a difference.”

Ms Bath said with the NSW border opening on November 23, it was appropriate to change the mask rule to optional, with wearing masks advisable when physical distancing was not possible.

“The Nationals have repeatedly asked the Premier to release his health evidence… on masks, however, our requests have been repeatedly refused.

“If the Premier continues to ignore health professionals and not align Victoria’s mask rule with New South Wales’, we run the risk of domestic tourists choosing to ‘escape’ Victoria, while interstate tourists may stay away.

“At a time when Gippsland business operators are desperate to recover following drought and coronavirus, I am calling on the Premier to follow NSW’s lead and model Victoria’s mask directives on the international expert health advice.”