Vic virus masks not a human rights breach

Victoria's Human Rights Commissioner says there is no breach in being required to wear a face mask.
Victoria's Human Rights Commissioner says there is no breach in being required to wear a face mask.

Conspiracy theorists need to stop claiming Victoria's mask orders breach human rights, authorities say.

Multiple videos have gone viral online of people challenging orders to wear masks in public during the state's deadly second coronavirus wave.

"Seriously, one more comment about human rights - honestly. It is about human life," Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday.

"The message that will save lives is not focusing on people whose, frankly, their behaviour is appalling. Their views have no basis in science or fact or law."

People in locked-down Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire have been ordered to wear face coverings when outside their homes and other Victorians are expected to wear masks when 1.5m social distancing can't be practised.

Videos on social media of a woman challenging Bunnings workers who asked her to wear a mask to enter a store on Sunday sparked community outrage.

Stores such as Bunnings operate on private property and have a right to make requests of customers, including that they wear masks.

The woman told the Bunnings worker she was being discriminated against and the request was against the law and her human rights.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton said the orders and associated $200 fine were not a breach of any human rights.

"The requirement for residents to wear a face mask or covering when leaving the house is a lawful directive that does not violate any rights set out under Victoria's charter of human rights and responsibilities or any international human rights instruments," she said in a statement.

"Shops, businesses and workplaces are able to refuse entry to a person not wearing a mask in order to protect the health of their staff and other customers."

Australia's Deputy Chief Health Officer Nick Coatsworth said it was disturbing to see people attacking others who are doing their job.

Of the 152 fines issued in the 24 hours to Monday by Victoria Police, 23 were for failing to wear a face covering when leaving home for one of the four approved reasons.

"The behaviour of those who blatantly choose to disregard the rules on the insistence their human rights being breached is alarming," Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said in a statement.

"Worse yet, it seems these people are more interested in notoriety and getting likes on social media than the health and wellbeing of their fellow Victorians."

The few reasons for people not to wear a mask include a medical condition that makes it difficult to breathe, a serious skin condition, or a disability or mental health condition.

There are also exceptions if you are communicating with a person with a hearing impairment, where they need to be able to see your mouth for communication; and if you are involved in strenuous exercise such as jogging, running or cycling.

Australian Associated Press