The Federal Government Health Committee has reversed its advice on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 for some residents.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) now recommends mask usage for residents in high-risk areas who cannot social distance.

That includes everyone living in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.

Dr Coatsworth said “Mask use in the community … in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire area, surgical masks or cloth masks is recommended if you find yourself in a situation where you cannot socially distance.’’

“This means if you have to leave your home for any of those reasons for which it is permissible, and you are likely to find yourself in a situation where you cannot maintain 1.5-metre distance, it is advisable to be covering your face with a mask.”

Australians who do not live in the areas do not need to wear a mask.