The state government gave the unvaccinated the same freedoms as the double jabbed and announced that masks will only be mandatory on public transport and at airports while QR check-in codes will only be required at some venues. Without providing scientific reasons, McMullen told "The Today Show" on Wednesday morning, Dec. 15, that she was asking the government to reconsider the mask mandate.
"We've been worried in the weeks leading up to this and encouraging the government to reconsider the mask mandate in particular," said McMullen, who believes masks are "a really simple, cheap way of reducing the spread of COVID-19."
McMullen also said it was unfortunate that the government lifted the mask mandate and encouraged Australians to keep wearing masks indoors despite multiple studies showing they do nothing to prevent COVID transmission and even cause several health issues when worn for long periods.
Meanwhile, passengers from two Virgin Australia flights will have to spend Christmas in isolation after two planes – flight VA1105 from Newcastle to Brisbane and flight VA375 from Brisbane to Townsville – were declared high risk COVID exposure sites.
Passengers on both flights have been deemed close contacts and have already started their mandatory 14-day isolation period in Queensland. They will spend their Christmas holidays locked away far from their families.
Some 84 new cases were detected among Christmas party revelers in The Argyle House nightclub in Newcastle, New South Wales. All the 680 attendees were identified as close contact after the virus was transmitted on December 8.
The latest cluster is linked to a boat party five nights earlier on Sydney Harbor, where at least five people caught the virus. NSW Health said the infections are likely caused by the omicron variant.
Due to the high transmission at the venue, the government ordered the household contacts of each individual present at the nightclub that day to immediately get tested and to isolate until the close contact tests negative.
"NSW Health is concerned about increased transmission taking place in larger social venues such as these, and we urge people not to attend social functions if they have any symptoms, even if mild." the agency stated.
Presently, there are 171 people in hospitals due to the virus, 24 of them in intensive care. Two deaths were reported, a man in his 70s and a man in his 80s.
A female traveler, who came from Britain, became the first case of Omicron at Newcastle. The alert was issued hours after NSW recorded Australia's first hospital admission of omicron. The tally of omicron infections rose to 55 out of the state's 485 new cases of COVID-19 on Dec. 12.
Meanwhile, dozens of demonstrators recently took to Sydney's Hyde Park to protest the introduction of a vaccine mandate across several industries.
Protests erupted in Melbourne, Victoria, Hobart, Tasmania, Sydney, New South Wales, Perth, Western Australia, and Gold Coast, Queensland as citizens showed their opposition to the mandate that makes it compulsory for employees to get vaccinated.
Last August, Australian truck drivers blocked a major highway in Queensland to show their opposition against the vaccine mandate and tough border restrictions.
The action marked a series of ongoing protests from Australians who are vehemently against the state government's COVID-19 lockdowns and mandated restrictions based on emergency public health orders.
Watch the video below to learn more about the omicron variant.
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