vic_logo
coronavirus.vic.gov.au

Face masks - types of face masks

Information about types of face masks in Victoria.

Summary of Restrictions

Restrictions are in place in Victoria from 11:59pm on Tuesday 27 July 2021: 

  • Face masks must be worn indoors and outdoors when you leave the house, unless an exception applies. For more information, see face masks. 
  • There are no restrictions on reasons to leave home or the distance you can travel but staying COVIDSafe remains important. 
  • Shops are open with a density requirement of 1 person per 4 sqm. While shopping you need to adhere to the patron limits per shop. This limit on patrons is in place to ensure everyone in the shop can keep 1.5 metres distance. 
  • Beauty and personal care services are open. Masks can be removed when needed to complete the treatment.  Masks must be worn by the service provider.

Ways to stay safe:

  • Always wash or sanitise your hands before you leave and when you return home.
  • Keep at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others.
  • If you are unwell you should get tested immediately and self-isolate until you get a negative test result.
  • Remember that the most important thing you can do is get tested, even if you have the mildest of symptoms.
  • Get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible to do so.

What does ‘wearing a fitted face mask’ mean?

A face mask includes any fitted paper or textile that covers the nose and mouth to provide the wearer protection against infection (but does not include a face shield). It does not have to be medical grade and you can make your own, however it must be fitted specifically covering the nose and the mouth. 

A fitted face mask is required instead of other types of face coverings because it provides better protection against viral transmission of COVID-19.

Is a scarf or bandana an appropriate face mask? 

No. You cannot wear a bandana or scarf on its own. You must wear a fitted face mask that covers the nose and mouth to provide protection against transmission.

The Chief Health Officer recommends a  mask with 3 layers that fits securely around the face, specifically covering the nose and the mouth.

Why should I wear a fitted face mask? 

Face masks are a protective physical barrier to help protect you and your loved ones. 

Wearing a fitted face mask helps keep you and others safe. COVID-19 is spread from close contact with a person with COVID-19. Face masks help reduce viral transmission by infectious respiratory droplets and aerosols that could otherwise spread when someone infectious speaks, laughs, sings, shouts, coughs, or sneezes. This includes individuals who have COVID-19  but may not be displaying symptoms (that is, asymptomatic cases).

The best way to protect yourself and other people against COVID-19 is by wearing a face mask, and interacting with others either outdoors or in well ventilated places. You should also keep at least 1.5 metres apart from others, wash your hands often, and if coughing or sneezing – do so into your elbow or into a tissue, and then immediately dispose of it.

Can I wear a snood or gaiter instead of a mask? 

No. You cannot wear a loose snood (or ‘gaiter’). You must wear a fitted face mask that covers the nose and mouth to provide you with protection against infection.

The Chief Health Officer recommends a mask with three layers that fits securely around the face, specifically covering the nose and the mouth. 

How do I wear a face mask correctly?  

Cloth face mask 

A cloth face mask should fit securely around the face, specifically covering the nose and the mouth areas. The face mask should fit snugly on your face and be secured by ties at the back of your head or ear loops. If you are using a face mask with ear loops, you can use a plastic clip or tie to join the ends together at the back of your head to make sure it fits snugly on your face.

Make sure that your face mask does not have holes or any unfiltered one-way valves. This can result in breathing out the virus if you have COVID-19.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser that is made up of over 60% alcohol, before putting on your face mask and after taking it off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used cloth face masks in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.

Surgical face mask (single use)

  • A surgical face mask should fit securely around the face, specifically covering the nose and the mouth areas. 
  • Before putting on the face mask, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use a hand sanitiser that is made up of over 60% alcohol.
  • Check for defects in the face mask, such as tears or broken loops.
  • Position the outer side of the face mask outward according to the instructions of the manufacturer.
  • If present, make sure the metallic strip is at the top of the face mask and positioned against the bridge of your nose. 
  • If the face mask has: 
    • ear loops: hold the face mask by both ear loops and place one loop over each ear 
    • ties: hold the face mask by the upper strings. Tie the upper strings in a secure bow near the crown of your head. Tie the bottom strings securely in a bow near the nape of your neck 
    • dual elastic bands: pull the bottom band over your head and position it against the nape of your neck. Pull the top band over your head and position it against the crown of your head. 
  • Mould the bendable metallic upper strip to the shape of your nose by pinching and pressing down on it with your fingers. 
  • Pull the bottom of the face mask over your mouth and chin. 
  • Be sure the face mask fits snugly. 
  • Don’t touch the face mask once in position. 
  • If the face mask gets soiled or damp, replace it with a new one. 

How do I know my cloth face mask is working? 

You know your face mask is working to protect you if it is well fitted. If the ties are loose, tighten them to ensure a snug fit. The face mask should fit snugly and cover your nose and mouth. Keep an eye on the integrity of the fabric as it may thin over time with repeated washing. If this happens, replace the face mask. 

When should I wash my cloth face mask? 

A cloth face mask should be washed each day after use. However, if during the day your mask is visibly dirty or wet, do not continue wearing your mask; the mask needs to be washed. 

Re-using a cloth face mask without washing is risky because it can become contaminated or may not be as effective in protecting you. 

How do I wash my cloth face mask? 

Cloth face masks can be washed in the washing machine with other clothes, or hand-washed using soap and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth.

Your cloth face mask should be dry before re-using it. You can use the heat setting on your dryer or lay out flat to air dry. If possible, place the cloth face mask in direct sunlight. Wash your hands after handling used face masks.

How do I know when it is time to get a new cloth face mask? 

Each cloth face mask will be constructed differently, therefore there is no specific ‘shelf life’ of a cloth face mask. However, the following are signs that your cloth face mask may no longer be offering you the same level of protection it once was: 

  • your cloth face mask does not fit snugly on your face (e.g. you can feel your breath coming out of the sides of the mask)
  • your cloth face mask keeps falling off or sliding down
  • there are holes in your cloth face mask
  • you need to keep adjusting your cloth face mask
  • the material has started to wear thin or fray.

Reviewed 27 July 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

24/7 Coronavirus Hotline

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

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

Was this page helpful?