While Victoria took another step towards normalcy, one business leader said lifting office capacity to 75 per cent was close to pointless with mask rules in place.

Indoor settings are risky areas, Professor Sutton said. We do need to bear in mind that thats a level of insurance, a level of protection that allows us to go to the very settings were trying to get to.
With offices allowed to run at 50 per cent capacity this week, City of Melbourne pedestrian monitoring shows that office workers are slowly starting to return to the city, but numbers are still down considerably on what was typical before the lockdown began last month.
There were 523 pedestrians recorded walking past the Southern Cross Station exit on Collins Street during morning peak hour on Wednesday morning. This time last month there were about 2000 pedestrians logged in the area on a weekday morning, while in 2019 there would have been almost 3900 pedestrians in the area on a typical weekday morning.
Danni Hunter, Victorian director of the Property Council of Australia, said masks were a natural handbrake on people returning to the office.
Offices are highly maintained, they are well-cleaned environments. Wed like to see more confidence given to workers that it is safe to come into the CBD in particular, she said.
City of Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp was less critical, saying she expected Wednesdays announcement to boost visitors to the CBD.
We understand wearing masks inside can be a little uncomfortable, but its worthwhile if it means we can return to offices safely and keep more businesses open.
James Trauer of the epidemiological modelling unit at Monash University said if Victoria had recorded seven straight days of no new cases, then face masks might not have been required indoors.
But with a small smattering of new cases linked to previous clusters in the last week, including one new case detected on Monday, Professor Trauer said there was still a tiny chance Melbournes recent spate of outbreaks had not yet been run to ground.
It is about being particularly cautious with interventions that dont cause people much harm, he said. As much as masks are an annoyance they are not in my view a significant imposition on somebody when youre balancing this against lockdowns and deaths.
Professor Trauer said maintaining the requirement for masks to be worn at offices even though its hard to know exactly what the effect of that would be was reasonable if it allowed businesses, cafes and restaurants to open up more widely.
Some epidemiologists argue the mandated face mask rule could be reviewed as early as next week on the provision that there are no new mystery cases that could not be linked back to an existing cluster.
Adrian Esterman, chair of biostatistics at the University of South Australia said he backed the very cautious move to keep masks mandated indoors for now, but he said if there were zero new cases over the next few days then there was no public health reason why the face mask indoors rule couldnt be removed as early next week.
Hopefully the outbreaks in Victoria have finished now or are in their death throes and sooner rather than later theyll stop insisting people wear masks indoors, he said.
It is a very cautious approach aimed at stopping any undetected spread because we do know that there is more of a risk of the virus spreading indoors and all the latest scientific evidence shows that wearing a mask is really effective at reducing transmission. But if there is no transmission of the virus, then there is no need for it.
Opposition Leader Michael OBrien called for the government to release any public health advice behind requiring masks indoors.
Victorians know that Labor has imposed restrictions without public health backing, such as last years curfew, he said. Releasing the advice on masks indoors is essential to maintaining public confidence in Labors continuing restrictions.
As Victoria eased restrictions, NSW imposed its toughest rules since the New Years period after it recorded 16 new cases.
To combat what she called the evolving situation around the 31-person cluster of the highly infectious Delta variant, Premier Gladys Berejiklian imposed a five-person limit on household gatherings, a ban on standing, singing and dancing at hospitality venues and mandatory masks in all indoor settings.
Travellers from the seven most-affected local government areas in Sydney remain banned from entering Victoria.
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