Face masks

Face masks lower your chance of catching and spreading respiratory viruses like flu or COVID-19.

Wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, staying home and testing when unwell helps protect you and others by reducing the spread of respiratory viruses.

When to wear a face mask

If you test positive to a respiratory virus you should stay home until your acute symptoms have cleared.

If you are unwell and must leave your home, consider wearing a mask when indoors or on public transport.

You should also consider wearing a face mask if you:

  • are visiting a place where there are people who are at higher risk of severe illness from respiratory viruses like COVID-19
  • are a person at higher risk of severe illness and visiting a crowded indoor public place, particularly when respiratory viral illnesses in the community are high.

Hospitals, aged care facilities, disability care facilities, GPs and other healthcare sites may have policies requiring you to wear a face mask to help protect staff, patients and clients.

Face masks should not be worn by children under 2 years or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

How to wear a face mask

If you wear a mask, you need to wear it properly to make sure it is as effective as possible.

Before you put on a face mask

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, then dry them. Alternatively, use hand sanitiser.

Putting on your face mask

  • Make sure your face mask fits securely around your face and covers your nose, mouth and chin.
  • Avoid gaps between your face and the face mask.

Wearing and removing your face mask

  • Avoid touching the front of your mask while wearing it.
  • Try not to reuse face masks, but if you need to take off your mask to eat or drink, remove carefully using the straps, fold so the outside doesn’t touch the inside of the mask and keep it somewhere clean. Remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser.
  • Replace your face mask if it becomes damp or soiled.
  • Avoid sharing masks with others.

After you have finished wearing your face mask

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, then dry them. Alternatively, use hand sanitiser.
  • Single-use masks should not be re-used. Throw them away after use in a landfill bin.
  • Wash your cloth mask after each use.

Choosing a face mask

Different types of masks provide different levels of protection.

Types of face mask

  • Particulate filter respirators (PFR), also known as P2/N95 respirators, provide the most protection when worn correctly.
  • Surgical masks provide good protection when worn correctly.
  • Reusable cloth masks made of three layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric, also provide good protection when worn correctly.

Particulate filter respirators (PFR) may provide a higher level of protection in comparison to a surgical mask and can be considered if you:

  • are caring for someone in your home who is sick with COVID-19
  • are at higher risk of severe illness.

Regardless of the type of face mask worn, it is important that it is comfortable, covers the nose and mouth, and fits closely to your face.

Scarves, bandannas, snoods/gaiters and face shields on their own are not good substitutes for face masks.

Make sure that your mask does not have holes or a valve as this can allow infectious particles to escape when breathing out if you have a respiratory viral illness.



The posters below may assist your facility if local recommendations requires visitors to wear a surgical mask.

Reasons to wear a mask

Video transcript

Masks help stop the spread of viruses and reduce our risk of getting sick.

There are many good reasons for wearing them.

We wear masks to protect ourselves or to help protect more vulnerable people.

We may be required to wear a mask when using public transport, or catching a plane, or when visiting a medical or high risk facility.

If you see someone wearing a mask respect their choice. And keep a mask handy, so you can use it when needed.