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Face masks - importance of face masks

Information about the importance of face masks in Victoria.

When do I need to wear a face mask?

  • From 11:59pm on Friday 9 April 2021, Victoria has further relaxed its COVIDSafe settings. These changes are designed to balance getting Victorians back to doing the things they love while keeping in place measures to protect all that Victorians have worked so hard for.
  • You must always carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave the home, unless you have a lawful reason not to.
  • Face masks must be worn:
    • on public transport, in commercial passenger vehicles such as taxis and ride share vehicles, and in tour vehicles
    • by visitors to a hospital
    • by visitors at a care facility (while indoors)
    • on flights to and from Victoria
    • at airports
    • if you are a diagnosed person, or a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID-19, when leaving your home or accommodation for a permitted reason, such as to seek medical care or to get tested
    • while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test when leaving your home or accommodation for a permitted reason, such as to seek medical care (except as part of a surveillance or other asymptomatic testing program)
    • while experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.
  • It is recommended that you wear a face mask when at a private gathering or when you cannot maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people (such as at outdoor markets, outdoor concerts, street markets, at a busy bus stop or train station platform).
  • There are a number of lawful reasons to not wear a face mask.

Are face masks still important in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Face masks are one of the most important ways we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. The risk of transmission is highest where people are close to each other, and in enclosed spaces.

That’s why face masks are mandatory in some settings, and recommended when at a private gathering and when you can’t maintain 1.5 metres distance from others. 

In situations where you must wear a mask, you must wear a fitted face mask that covers the nose and mouth. This means that face shields, bandanas or scarves or loose snoods, or loose neck gaiters on their own are not considered a sufficient face covering. A cloth face mask with three layers or a surgical mask is recommended by the Chief Health Officer, as it provides the best protection for you and others.

Are face masks effective for protecting against coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission?

Face masks have been recommended around the world for use by the community to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

Your best protection is still to keep at least 1.5 metres apart from other people, to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.

For the community, both cloth masks and surgical masks are effective in reducing the transmission of COVID-19.

How does wearing a fitted face mask reduce community transmission?

Wearing a fitted face mask protects both you and the people around you by reducing the movement of COVID-19, especially when indoors where ventilation is reduced.

This two-way protection significantly reduces community transmission when more people wear face masks.

More movement of the virus from person to person means a greater chance of infection.

A fitted face mask can reduce this movement by blocking droplets moving from an infected person and also droplets moving to someone who is not infected.

When do I have to wear a mask?

You can find more information on the face masks page

Reviewed 12 April 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

24/7 Coronavirus Hotline

If you suspect you may have coronavirus (COVID-19) call the dedicated hotline – open 24 hours, 7 days.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

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