Victorians trapped in COVID-19 hotspots are converging on chemists to stock up on masks before they become compulsory.
On Monday, some chemists in Melbourne’s west were already beginning to run short of supplies, with at least one chemist in the hotspot of Wyndham depleted entirely.
While stocks are expected to be quickly replenished, Victorians are being urged to consider making their own reusable masks.
Face masks in the COVID hotspot of Wyndham vary in price from suburb to suburb. At Manor Lakes, in Wyndham Vale, people could pick up a mask for a little under $3
Across the road from the Werribee Pacific shopping centre, people could pick up two masks for $10, which can be worn for about eight hours before they need replacing
In Werribee, a 10 pack of masks will set you about about $40 and stocks were getting low on Monday
Victoria has become the first Australian state to enforce mandatory mask wearing in public.
From Thursday, all residents of the state’s lockdown regions will be required to wear a face covering whenever they leave their home.
Residents in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire sprung without a mask in public risk a $200 fine.
Victoria recorded 275 new coronavirus cases on Monday – 247 of which are under investigation with 28 linked to known outbreaks.
It comes as children resume school after a three week break, with most having to return to home schooling.
Victoria’s education minister James Merlino said while the majority of students would stay home, masks would be provided to students who needed to go to school.
The government has pledged 1.2 million single use masks, which are expected to be distributed to government schools in Melbourne metro and Mitchell Shire over the coming days.
Catholic and independent schools will also be sent masks.
A further order for 1.37 million reusable masks has been made to help the Department of Education get through the immediate crisis.
What A Mask Costs Living In A COVID Hotspot
Advance Pharmacy Hoppers Crossing: 10 for $15 or face shields $4.99 each
Wyndham Discount Chemist: $10 for two Kn95 masks offering 8 hour wear time
Priceline Werribee Pacific: $20 for 10 pack
Chemist Warehouse: 50 pack for $49 or 10 for $13
Direct Chemist Warehouse, Werribee : $40 a 10 pack
Manor Lakes Pharmacy Select: $2.95 single mask or $29.50 for 10
Down on the streets, confused Melburnians have bombarded their local chemists with questions.
A Department of Health and Human Services web page continues to display out-of-date and incorrect information.
While Mr Merlino on Monday said students attending school could wear bandannas or scarves to school, the DHHS website maintains the garments do not offer the same kind of protection as proper face masks.
In the municipality of Wyndham, in Melbourne’s west, residents appear to have largely accepted the directive to wear masks in public.
The area has become a breeding ground for the virus, with active cases continuing to climb into the 300s over the weekend.
Those daring to hit the shops in Hoppers Crossing, Werribee and Wyndham Vale on Monday were mostly wearing masks.
Many had hit the shops simply to buy the disposable items.
Prices varied from chemist to chemist, with shoppers in Hoppers Crossing paying anywhere up to $5 a mask.
A chemist worker told Daily Mail Australia people had flocked to the shop over the weekend to buy the masks.
Information on the DHHS website tells Victorians that scarves and bandanas are probably not good options as a mask, yet the health minister said children can wear them to school
A shopper in Werribee where supplies of masks range in price depending where you pick them up
At Werribee Pacific shopping centre, people can get a 10 pack of masks for $20
One chemist had completely run out of its 10 for $15 masks and only had $5 face shields left.
Chemist Warehouse appeared to offer the best bang for buck, selling a 50 pack of masks for $49.
On Werribee’s main strip, a 10 pack of masks cost $40.
In Wyndham Vale, where shoppers could be seen out in their fluffy slippers and face masks, single masks were selling for about $3 a pop.
One crafty grand mother told Daily Mail Australia she was making masks for her adult children out of old undies she found in a drawer.
She planned to make her 45-year old son a mask out of his Spider-Man jocks, which he had handed over for her to darn years earlier.
Further north, fabric store Spotlight in Springvale had almost run out of sewing machines as residents prepared to make their own garments.
But some Melburnians are still refusing to wear a mask, claiming it infringes their civil liberties.
‘They would have to take me to court and I still wouldn’t pay the fine,’ one man told the Today show on Monday.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) has warned people will be fined if they venture out to shops without a mask come Thursday
Victoria’s COVID-19 tally continues to worry authorities and Victorians trapped within the state
Conflicting information on mask wearing remained on DHHS websites on Monday
People hit the streets of Melbourne in masks on Sunday. On Monday, the message appeared to have got through in coronavirus hotspots in Melbourne’s west
It appeared to be anpopular sentiment among those daring to hit the streets of Melbourne’s COVID hotspots on Monday.
‘You could put some people’s brains in a dog and the dog would still bark,’ one Hoppers Crossing resident said of the stance against masks.
Others complained about the impact the disposable masks were having on the environment.
‘These things have become the new disposable coffee cups,’ an older chap told Daily Mail Australia. ‘They’re all over the place. People are pigs.’