FACE masks are becoming a vital hair appointment accessory in salons across Ballarat as COVID-19 extends its reach on the region.
Hairdressers have increasingly been masking up and asking the same of their clients in a bid to better protect themselves, their business and their community.
Hair became a sticking point in iso-life part one with most salons shutting up shop until clearer health and business information was available. Social distancing in the salon remains the big issue.
Masks will become mandatory in public for Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire from 11.59pm on Wednesday with the risk of fines for failure to do so.
While it remains a recommendation in regional Victoria for people entering places where they feel they are unable to social distance, hairdressers have been key drivers to make masks essential.
Ivy Hairdressing and Beauty owner Aleesha Campbell said social distancing in her trade was impossible. While extra measures had been put in the salon to promote distancing and hygiene, Ms Campbell said masks were an extra preventative tool against the virus.
Just like social distancing, we felt (wearing masks) was the right thing to do.Aleesha Campbell, Ivy Hairdressing owner
"We need to think about out health and out clients' health," Ms Campbell said. "Ballarat has a lot of commuters in this city, we also have a lot of elderly clientele and we want to do the right thing.
"Once we saw masks were mandatory in Melbourne, then just like social distancing, we felt it was the right thing to do."
Masks worn by two hairdressers in the United States spared 139 clients from contracting coronavirus, a US Centres for Disease Control report found last week.
The Missouri-based stylists worked for about a week before they started to feel symptoms. Contact tracing found none of their clients, or secondary contacts, had symptoms after two weeks' monitoring. The report did not identify whether clients were also wearing masks.
Good hair has remained a top priority for women and men during the pandemic. Hairdresser searches were up three per cent to 38 per cent for women and rose six per cent for men, according to data from Yellow, formerly known as Yellow Pages.
Premier Daniel Andrews made clear in a regional media briefing on Friday it was unlikely regional Victoria - outside Mitchell Shire - would need to go back under stage three restrictions should everyone play their role in social distancing, hygiene and limiting visits to lockdown zones.
No new cases were identified in the City of Ballarat on Tuesday with active cases remaining steady on nine.
A further three cases were recorded in Golden Plains Shire, which stretches from Ballarat to Geelong and includes Smythesdale and Haddon. Golden Plains' active tally is at eight cases but it remains unclear exactly where in the shire each case resides.
This is a similar scenario for Moorabool Shire where active cases jumped by two to five infected persons, residing in a region taking in southern Ballarat, Ballan and Bacchus Marsh.
Ballarat Health Services confirmed late Tuesday it was still treating two patients with COVID-19 at the Base Hospital. Both patients were in a stable condition but no further details were provided.
In a statement, BHS advises it had mandated an increase in personal protective equipment across all its sites - this includes Queen Elizabeth Centre and nine aged care facilities. All staff are required to wear face masks.
No further updates have been provided on BHS' Bill Crawford Lodge where a staff member and resident have both tested positive for COVID-19.
Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton last week made clear widespread face mask usage was a significant driver in lowering COVID-19 transmission rates - even if just steering others further away from the wearer.
New international analysis changed the state's view on face masks. The premier has said even a scarf or bandana covering the mouth and nose in public could help.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.