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Face masks - when to wear a face mask

Information about when to wear a face mask in Victoria.

From 11:59 pm on Tuesday 27 July 2021, restrictions have changed:

  • There are no restrictions on the reasons to leave home but staying COVIDSafe remains important.
  • There are no restrictions on travelling across the state or to regional Victoria.
  • Face masks are mandatory indoors and outdoors. You do not need to wear a mask in your own home, or if a lawful exception applies.
  • If you have any symptoms, no matter how mild you should get tested for COVID-19.

Social gatherings

  • Private gatherings in the home are not permitted.
  • You can see friends and family outdoors in a public place in a group of up to 10 people. A public place is an area accessible by members of the public like a park or the beach. It does not include your backyard at home.

Work and education

  • If you can work or study from home, you should continue to do so. If you can’t work from home or another suitable premise, you can go to work.
  • Offices can increase in attendance to 25% capacity or 10 people, whichever is greater.
  • Schools and early childcare are open.

Religion and ceremony

  • Religious gatherings and ceremonies are allowed, with density requirements of 1 person per 4sqm, and no more than 100 people per indoor space and 300 people per outdoor space.
  • Places of worship are required to have a COVID Check-In Marshal monitoring patrons checking in using the Service Victoria app.
  • You can have a wedding with up to 50 people at a venue. This limit includes the couple and two witnesses. The celebrant, and a photographer are in addition to the cap.
  • Funerals are allowed with up to 50 people. This limit doesn’t include babies under 12 months of age, or the people required to conduct the funeral.

Sport and recreation

  • Community sport is open for all ages, including training and competition. This includes contact and non-contact sport. The minimum number of participants (players, coaches, referees, officials and carers/parents) needed to train or compete are permitted to attend.
  • Indoor and outdoor physical recreation is open, including gyms, with density requirements of 1 person per 4 sqm, and no more than 100 people per indoor space and 300 people per outdoor space.
  • Class and group sizes may be up to 10 people, plus people required to conduct the activity (such as a trainer running a gym class).
  • Physical recreational facilities are required to have a COVID Check-In Marshal monitoring patrons checking in using the Service Victoria app.
  • Equipment must be cleaned between users. You must wear a face mask at all times, except when you are strenuously exercising and you are out of breath, or of another exception applies.
  • Operational food and drink facilities within a sport or recreation facility must comply with the density requirement of 1 person per 4sqm and a maximum of 100 people.

Retail and hospitality

  • 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.
  • Restaurants and cafes can open for seated service with up to 25 people before density requirements apply. A density requirement of 1 person per 4 sqm applies, with a maximum of 100 people (indoors and outdoors) per venue. Group sizes are limited to 10 people. A limit on customers for seated service is in place to ensure everyone can keep 1.5 metres distance. Food courts can also re-open with a density requirement of 1 person per 4 sqm with a maximum of 100 people per venue (indoors and outdoors) and a COVID Check-in Marshal must be present.
  • Restaurants and cafes are required to have a COVID Check-in Marshal monitoring patrons checking in using the Service Victoria app.

Entertainment

  • Community facilities including libraries can open with density requirements of 1 person per 4sqm, with no more than 100 people per indoor space and 300 people per outdoor space. Group sizes are limited to 10 people.
  • All entertainment and community facilities are required to have a COVID Check-in Marshal monitoring patrons checking-in using the Service Victoria app.
  • Bars, karaoke facilities and nightclubs are open with seated service only (dancefloor closed), a density requirement of 1 person per 4 sqm and a cap of 100 people per venue.
  • Indoor seated venues such as cinemas can have up to 100 people per space. Non-seated indoor venues have a density requirement of 1 person per 4 sqm and up to 100 people per space.

Face masks

Face masks must be carried at all times and must be worn indoors and outdoors.

You do not need to wear a mask in your own home, the home of your intimate partner or if a lawful exception applies.

Can businesses refuse service to someone if they are not wearing a face mask?

Businesses should not refuse service to patrons who may have a lawful reason for not wearing a face mask at venues that require mandatory face masks. For more information on face masks and human rights, visit the website of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

Wearing a face mask

Where can I get a face mask?

You can purchase cloth masks or surgical masks from retail outlets including chemists, hardware stores and other shops, or you can follow our directions to make your own cloth mask.

Face shields on their own do not meet the face covering requirements in the Directions currently in force.

Can I wear my face mask under my nose or chin?

No, wearing a face mask under your nose or chin does not provide protection to you or others. You need to wear your face mask securely around the face, specifically covering the nose and the mouth areas.

Can I remove my face mask to smoke or use an e-cigarette?

Yes, subject to existing restrictions on smoking in public places in Victoria.

The hand-to-mouth action of smoking and e-cigarette use means that people who smoke may be more vulnerable to COVID-19, as they are touching their face and mouth more often. You should wash your hands as soon as you finish and should not share an individual cigarette or vaping device.

How do I stop my face mask fogging up my glasses?

Make sure the face mask is fitted and pinched on your nose if possible. Put your glasses on after the face mask. Wash your glasses with detergent and water to create a film to prevent fogging. You can also use micropore tape (available at all pharmacies) to tape the mask along the bridge of your nose and cheeks, then put your glasses on top. Or put a folded tissue across the bridge of your nose, then put your face mask on and your glasses on top.

I wear a hearing aid, what tips do you have for me about wearing a face mask?

If you wear a hearing aid you need to be careful when putting on or taking off your face mask to ensure you don’t lose your hearing aid or get your face mask tangled in it. Consider using a face mask that ties around the head, rather than over the ears as this will keep the ties free from your hearing aid.

If you are having trouble communicating with someone who is wearing a face mask you can ask them to speak louder or to remove their mask during your conversation. You should maintain physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres from others.

Is a scarf or bandana an appropriate face covering? 

You must wear a fitted face mask that covers the nose and mouth, designed to protect you from COVID-19. It does not mean a scarf or bandana or loose snood or loose gaiter.

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

Can I remove my face mask to talk with other people?

If you are in a setting where face masks are mandatory, such as on public transport or in a taxi or ride-share vehicle, you can remove your face mask if you are communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

Exceptions for not wearing a face mask

Lawful excuses or exceptions for not wearing a face mask

A face mask is not required to be worn in some circumstances including for:

  • Infants and children under the age of 12 years. 
  • Students at primary school or after school hours care at a primary school. 
  • Persons who have a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, which makes wearing a face covering unsuitable, including persons with obstructed breathing, a serious skin condition of the face, an intellectual disability, a mental health condition or persons who have experienced trauma. 
  • The person is at a premises that is their ordinary place of residence or their temporary place of residence. 
  • The person is visiting a person with whom they are in an intimate personal relationship with. 
  • Persons communicating with those who are deaf or hard of hearing and visibility of the mouth is essential for communication. 
  • Persons for whom the nature of their work or education means that wearing a face mask creates a risk to health and safety. 
  • Persons for whom the nature of their work or education means that clear enunciation or visibility of their mouth is essential. This includes teaching, lecturing or broadcasting. 
  • The person is working by themselves in an enclosed indoor space such as an office unless and until another person enters that space. 
  • The person is working by themselves in an outdoor space, provided no other person is also in the outdoor space (except a person who ordinarily resides at the same premises with them).  
  • When asked to remove the face mask to ascertain identity. For instance, where asked by police, security, bank or post office staff to remove a face mask to ascertain identity. 
  • The person is one of two persons being married while in the process of being married. 
  • The person is a professional sportsperson when training or competing. 
  • Persons who are engaged in any strenuous physical exercise such as running, jogging, swimming or cycling. 
  • The person is riding a bicycle or motorcycle. 
  • The person is undergoing dental or medical care or treatment to the extent that such care or treatment requires no face mask be worn. 
  • The person is smoking or vaping (including e-cigarettes) while stationary. 
  • The person is consuming food, drink or medicine. 
  • Persons receiving or providing a service from a facility which is permitted to operate under the Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria), to the extent that it is not reasonably practicable to receive or provide that service while wearing a face mask (for example, beard trimmings) 
  • If required or authorised by law. 
  • The person is travelling in a vehicle by themselves or with members of their household. 
  • The person is a prisoner in a prison, subject to any policies of that prison. 
  • The person is detained in a remand centre, youth residential centre or youth justice centre, subject to any policies of that centre. 
  • The person is escaping harm or the risk of harm, including harm relating to family violence or violence of another person. 
  • For emergency purposes. 
  • Where not doing so is not safe in all the circumstances. 

People with lawful excuses for not wearing a face mask should still keep at least 1.5 metres apart from others, practice regular hand hygiene by washing or sanitising hands frequently, continue to comply with the Directions currently in force, and get tested if unwell (even with mild symptoms). Find out more about staying safe.

I have a medical condition that prevents me from wearing a face mask, do I need a medical certificate stating I don’t need to wear a face mask?

You do not need a medical certificate stating that you have a lawful reason for not wearing a face mask. If you have a lawful reason for not wearing a face mask, you do not need to apply for an exemption or permit.

If you are stopped by police in a setting where face masks are mandatory, they will ask you to confirm the lawful reason you are not wearing a face mask.

Do people with a disability have to wear a face mask?

Yes, people with a disability must wear a face mask in settings where it is mandatory, unless the person has a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, which makes wearing a face mask unsuitable (for instance, due to medical, physical, communication or other individual risk factors).

I have a lawful exception for not wearing a face mask – can I wear a face shield or other face covering?

You can choose to wear a face shield on its own if you have a lawful reason for not wearing a face mask. Other types of coverings, including specially designed face coverings, can be worn by people who have a lawful exception to provide a level of protection against COVID-19 transmission

What about people who have experienced trauma that makes it difficult for them to wear a face mask?

Some people who have past experiences of trauma are unable to wear a face mask due to psychological impacts. This is a lawful reason not to wear a face mask. You do not need to carry or produce evidence proving that you are eligible for this exception.

Can I take my face mask off if someone I am communicating with can’t hear me?

You can remove your face mask if you are communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

You should maintain physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres and if you need to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your elbow.

Reviewed 27 July 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

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