Shepparton residents 12 years and older will be required to wear a mask or a face covering whenever they leave home from Monday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Victorian Government brought regional Victoria in line with metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire on Thursday, mandating the wearing of masks or face coverings from 11.59 pm Sunday.
There will be a $200 penalty for those who do not comply, but some people may be exempt from wearing a mask for medical or practical reasons.
As of 2 pm Thursday, many of the region's pharmacies and hardware stores had sold out of masks or were running extremely low on stock.
Mooroopna Hardware store manager Joey Campanelli said they had sold 100 boxes of masks in a matter of hours, and weren't sure whether they would be able to get further supply for another couple of weeks.
“I have my fingers crossed for next week, but I'm not holding my breath,” he said.
The News understands all three Chemist Warehouse locations have sold out of disposable masks, and were unsure when supply would be restocked.
But Reid's Pharmacy managing pharmacist Leticia Keady said while she sold 1000 masks within a couple of hours on Thursday, they were expecting a large delivery of disposable masks on Friday.
“We're confident we'll have stock,” she said.
The pharmacy will soon be providing reusable masks for vulnerable community members, as part of a Victorian Government program announced on Friday last week.
Premier Daniel Andrews responded to concerns about the potential mask shortage, and said there were 2.5 million masks on order which were arriving in batches each day.
Mr Andrews said providing reusable masks for vulnerable people and schools would be a priority, and further details on this roll-out would be available on Friday.
However, he said the face covering did not need to be a standard mask, and there were lots of different ways to cover the face that could be found online.
“You can wear a scarf, you can wear a bandana, you can make a mask at home,” Mr Andrews said.
“They're not all as perhaps elegant as others, but they do they do the job and that's the most important thing.”
Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said it was important for community members to do all they could to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19.
“Given the nature of the community we live in, we have workers coming from outside the restricted area, including people who have to come here to keep our hospitals functioning — we do need to be careful,” she said.
“(An outbreak) would be devastating, particularly for our aged care community,” Ms Sheed said.
She urged the Victorian Government to get a supply of good quality masks out to regional areas, and encouraged community members to help out one another in the meantime.
“If you’ve got a sewing machine, make 10 and hand them out to your friends,” Ms Sheed said.
“We also have creative people in our community making them and selling them.”
Regional Victorians dining at cafes or restaurants will be required to wear masks while standing, but can take them off when seated.
People do not have to wear a mask while running, but have to put one on directly afterwards.
Greater Shepparton does not have a recorded case of COVID-19, as Victoria reported 723 new cases and 13 deaths within 24 hours.
Places selling masks (call ahead to check stock):
● Kleenmart Cleaning and Machinery Supplies, Shepparton; phone 5822 2727.
● WB Hunter Home Timber & Hardware, Shepparton; phone 5833 3999.
● Chemist Warehouse, Shepparton; phone 5821 6000.
● Chemist Warehouse, Shepparton North; phone 5821 0296.
● Chemist Warehouse, Kialla; phone 5823 5194.
● Amcal Pharmacy Shepparton – John Anderson; phone 5821 2596.
● Mooroopna Hardware, Mooroopna; phone 5825 4660.
● Bunnings Warehouse, Shepparton; phone 5825 7200.
● Reid's Pharmacy, Shepparton; phone 5831 5000.
●Australian Independent Rural Retailers, Shepparton; phone 5822 1933.
● If you are making or selling masks, please email [email protected]
To see how to make a cloth mask at home as per the Department of Health and Human Services requirements, here's the guide.