One in five Australians would refuse to wear a face mask during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study of social media activity.
It comes after a 21-year-old St Kilda woman was charged on Tuesday with assaulting police and resisting arrest over a violent confrontation over face masks in Melbourne.
Footage emerged of the violent clash between Victoria Police officers and the unmasked woman in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Collingwood on Monday.
The incident was the latest in a string of public altercations over Victoria’s mandatory face mask rule aimed at curbing the state’s second wave of coronavirus.
And a new survey suggests it won’t be the last.
About 20 per cent of Australians openly object to wearing face masks, a nationwide study by media intelligence company Isentia has revealed.
As part of the analysis, more than 1000 social conversations across Australia were examined from July 1 to August 3.
Of the conversations on social media mentioning face masks, nearly three-quarters of posts shared a positive sentiment, stating that people would – and others should – wear them.
But one-fifth of the conversations showed Australians openly and adamantly objecting to face masks, or not supporting state government moves to making them mandatory.
The top three reasons against wearing of face masks were:
- Doubts about the overall effectiveness of masks (49.4 per cent)
- Rebellion against the government, as people feel their personal rights are being infringed upon (19.8 per cent)
- Scepticism around the severity of the virus itself (8.6 per cent).
Isentia insights specialist ANZ Andrew Ledovskikh said about 35 per cent of the conversations studied exposed “highly emotional and abusive language which either encouraged others to wear a mask or criticised and openly called out anti-maskers”.
“These conversations highlight a growing frustration in the wider community as some aggressively blame the current situation on those who have failed to ‘do the right thing’,” Mr Ledovskikh said.
Under Stage 3 rules in regional Victoria and Stage 4 in Melbourne, residents face a $200 fine unless they are under 12 years old, are doing strenuous exercise, or if they have a medical condition that makes wearing a mask difficult.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, people do not need to show police a medical certificate proving they have a lawful reason for not wearing a face covering.