A stockpile of more than 30,000 face masks is not being distributed to workers or bus drivers despite a growing cluster of coronavirus.
A stockpile of more than 30,000 face masks is not being distributed to workers or bus drivers despite a growing cluster of coronavirus.

Council won’t release ‘stockpile’ of masks

A "stockpile" of more than 30,000 face masks held by Brisbane City Council is not being distributed to workers or bus drivers despite a growing cluster of coronavirus in the state and calls from the Chief Health Officer to wear face-coverings on public transport.

Council data shows that 31,300 face masks are currently being held in council storage - comprising 10,800 disposable surgical masks, 20,000 fabric face masks and 500 disposable face shields.

However an email sent to council employees on Tuesday - obtained by The Courier-Mail - states that those masks would not be distributed to council employees until the State Government issues a "mandate to wear a face coverings in public".

The email urges "employees that can work from home to do so" and those who can't to "follow the COVIDSafe measures".

It adds: "Council will not be supplying face masks to employees due to coronavirus; however please be assured we are prepared if anything changes."

COVID-19 contact tracing alerts have been issued for locations across the River City, and Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young on Monday - the same day the council email was sent - urged Queenslanders travelling on public transport to wear face masks.

"If you're in a taxi, or a ride share or on public transport, that's a time to wear a mask," Dr Young said on Monday.

Opposition Councillor Kara Cook questioned the refusal to provide masks. (AAP Image/Richard Walker)
Opposition Councillor Kara Cook questioned the refusal to provide masks. (AAP Image/Richard Walker)

 

Opposition Councillor Kara Cook said council's refusal to provide masks meant the "city's bus drivers, who cannot work from home" were "putting their health on the line every day".

Rail Tram and Bus Union assistant state secretary Tom Brown said the cluster was a "growing concern" and that some drivers had resorted to purchase masks for themselves.

Bus drivers aren’t being provided with masks despite advice from the CHO to consider wearing masks on public transport. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled
Bus drivers aren’t being provided with masks despite advice from the CHO to consider wearing masks on public transport. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled

Council this week overturned an urgency motion to release its "stockpile" of masks - which Public and Active Transport Chair Ryan Murphy said the "stockpile" of masks had been gathered to prepare Council's 8000 person workforce for a "potential second wave".

The masks will be issued to employees who in the course of their work are not always able to maintain Queensland Health's guidelines for appropriate social distancing measures.

"The last thing we want to do is burn through them unnecessarily," he said.

"Council has been providing masks to Council employees who in the course of their work are not always able to maintain Queensland Health's guidelines for appropriate social distancing measures."

"If the health advice changes and if we are instructed by TransLink to use masks, we will absolutely do so."

 

Originally published as Why Council won't release 'stockpile' of masks


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