Spring into a mask-free season

Over the last four years we all became accustomed to wearing masks in our daily lives. While the requirement to wear a mask was gradually rolled back in public settings in 2022, masks have remained a feature of sensitive settings like hospitals, residential aged care and GP clinics since that time.

However, in recent months many hospitals and aged care facilities have decided to remove the requirement for masks. These decisions have been made due to the low risk of infection from COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses in our community, region and across the state.

In Mount Alexander Shire we’re seeing very low rates of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, which has reduced the risk of exposure and infection for everyone. In response to this lowered risk, Dhelkaya Health has taken the decision to remove the mask requirement for staff and visitors.

The change comes into effect on Friday, 1 September. It applies to Dhelkaya Health’s Castlemaine campus and Maldon Hospital.

CEO Sue Race said: “This news will be very much welcomed by visitors, patients, residents and staff alike. While the change means we can all spring into a mask free season, it’s important to understand there remain important exceptions to be aware of and anyone who chooses to keep wearing a mask will be provided with one on arrival.”

Visitors are encouraged to review the changes to understand where exceptions apply. For example, anyone with respiratory symptoms who is planning a visit to hospital or aged care should postpone the visit until they feel well again. But if this isn’t possible, these visitors will be required to wear a mask during their visit. Masks will also be required for those with respiratory symptoms coming into the Urgent Care Centre or who are admitted to hospital.

While staff will no longer be required to masks at all times, exceptions will apply to staff too.

Ms Race said: “We have very robust protocols in place for staff to protect those we care for and our wider staff group. These include making sure staff don’t come to work when they’re feeling unwell, mandatory COVID-19 testing in certain circumstances, and infection control practices that help to prevent transmission of respiratory illnesses.”

While the long-awaited removal of the mask mandate means we can all spring into a mask-free season, the advice to protect yourself and those who are vulnerable remains the same. If you’re feeling unwell or experiencing any respiratory symptoms, stay at home, test yourself for COVID-19 and make sure your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations are up to date.


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