‘Regrettable’: UniSA reintroduces mask mandate amid Omicron surge

The University of South Australia is reintroducing mandatory mask-wearing on all its campuses and recommending classes and meetings be held online where possible, following advice from chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier.

Aug 02, 2022, updated Aug 02, 2022
University of Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

University of Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

In an update to staff on Monday, UniSA vice chancellor David Lloyd said Spurrier had provided him with “specific updated information for the higher education sector” amid the current wave of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 cases across the state.

Lloyd said Spurrier’s health advice included recommendation for mask-wearing in shared spaces and moving to online meetings and teaching “wherever possible”.

The vice chancellor said UniSA would act on the advice and re-introduce a requirement for mask-wearing “in all shared indoor spaces on all UniSA campuses”.

The university will also move to deliver teaching, research activities and meetings online where possible.

Wherever face-to-face teaching is needed, masks will be required, Lloyd said.

“These measures will be in place and under review until such time as SA case numbers significantly subside,” Lloyd wrote.

“It’s regrettable that we find ourselves having to re-adopt these precautions, but they are our best lines of defence to reduce the impact of the current variants.”

Lloyd said face masks would be available for all students at campus central and FM Assist hubs.

As recently as July 25, UniSA said on its website that “the wearing of masks in most University settings, on UniSA campuses, is a personal choice”.

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“Masks are still required in some areas, such as University health-related settings. This is in line with advice from SA Health.”

The move comes with semester two of the university year in its second week.

South Australia recorded 2389 COVID-19 cases and five deaths on Monday, on top of 2364 cases and nine deaths on Sunday.

Masks remain mandatory in high-risk settings such as hospitals and other health care services, pharmacies, disability and aged care services, public transport, and on planes..

The state Opposition this morning called on the state government to hand out free masks on public transport to boost takeup.

“This initiative aims to keep passengers protected on our trains, trams and buses and would mean South Australians are more likely to get on board with wearing masks and are more likely to continue patronising public transport,” shadow health spokesperson Ashton Hurn said.

“It’s no secret many passengers aren’t wearing masks on public transport right now and providing them for free is a commonsense step the Labor Government should consider.”

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