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Face coverings – 11.59pm Wednesday 22 July – Victoria Australia

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If you live within metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, you must wear a face covering whenever you leave your home, unless an exception applies. A face covering needs to cover both your nose and mouth. It could be a face mask or shield.

Key points

  • From 11:59pm on 22 July 2020 if you live in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire you must wear a face covering if you need to leave home for one of the four reasons.
  • If you live in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire and you need to travel outside this area you must wear a face covering.
  • If you live in other parts of Victoria it is recommended you wear a face covering when you leave home and are in situations where it is difficult to maintain physical distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and others.
  • If you cannot purchase or make a face mask an alternative form of covering including a scarf or bandana may be used.
  • Infants and children under the age of 12 are not required to wear a face covering. Due to risk of choking it is not safe to use a mask on child under two years of age.
  • A fine of $200 may be issued to people who do not wear a face covering and do not have a valid reason for exception.
  • The valid reasons for not wearing a mask are included on this this page

These new rules won’t be enforced until after 11.59pm on Wednesday 22 July. If you live in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire it is recommended you start wearing a face covering as soon as you can.

What does wearing a face covering mean?

If you live within metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, you must wear a face covering whenever you leave your home, unless an exception applies. A face covering needs to cover both your nose and mouth. It could be a face mask or shield.

A face mask is the recommended face covering. A face mask includes any paper or textile covering designed or made to be worn over the nose and mouth to protect the wearer. It does not have to be medical grade and you can make your own. There are instructions on how to make a mask on the Department’s website – how to make your own mask (PDF).

If a face mask is not available other forms of face covering may be used such as a scarf or bandana. 

A face shield means any film made from plastic or other transparent material designed or made to be worn like a visor, covering from the wearer’s forehead to below the chin area and wrapping around the sides of the wearer’s face, to provide the wearer protection.

Why do I have to wear a face covering?

Wearing a face covering helps keep you and others safe. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread from close contact with a person with the virus. Face coverings are helpful to stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) and is contagious, but feels well. 

The best way to protect other people against coronavirus (COVID-19) is staying home when you feel unwell, keeping 1.5 metres apart, wash your hands often, and cough or sneeze into your elbow or tissue. Face coverings add an additional protective physical barrier to protect you and your loved ones.

When do I have to wear a face covering?

Unless an exception applies, if you live in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire you must wear a face covering when you leave your home for one of the four reasons: shopping for food and supplies, recreation or exercise, medical care and caregiving, and study or work – if you can’t do it from home. This includes travelling on public transport, in a car with people outside your household.

If you live in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire and must travel outside of these areas, for necessary goods and services, medical care and caregiving, or study or work, you must continue to wear a face covering.

Similarly, if you live outside metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire and must travel inside these areas, for necessary goods and services, medical care and caregiving, or study or work, you must wear a face covering.

Lawful excuses or exceptions for not wearing a face covering

A face covering is not required in the following circumstances: 

  • Infants and children under the age of 12 years. 
  • A person who is affected by a relevant medical condition – including problems with their breathing, a serious skin condition on the face, a disability or a mental health condition. This also includes persons who are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to that person’s health and safety related to their work, as determined through OH&S guidelines.
  • Persons whose professions require clear enunciation or visibility of their mouth. This includes teaching or live broadcasting. 
  • Professional sportspeople when training or competing.
  • When the individual is doing any exercise or physical activity where they are out of breath or puffing; examples include jogging or running but not walking. You must have a face covering on you and wear it when you finish exercising.
  • When directed by police to remove the face covering to ascertain identity.
  • The person is travelling in a vehicle by themselves or with other members of their household.
  • When consuming food, drink, medication or when smoking/vaping.
  • When asked to remove a face covering to ascertain identity, for example at a bank branch or bottle shop.
  • When undergoing dental treatment or other medical care to the extent that the procedure requires that no face covering may be worn. 
  • During emergencies.

You must carry a face covering with you when leaving home for one of the four reasons, even if you don’t need to wear it while undertaking your current activity, for example you can take your face covering off to eat. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a face covering at all times you don’t need to carry it with you. 

Do I have to wear a face covering if I have asthma?

People who have a medical condition, including problems with their breathing, do not have to wear face coverings.

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

Yes, people with a disability must wear a face covering unless it is impractical or unsafe to do so for medical, communication or other individual risk factors. 

Schools, study and childcare

Will face coverings be mandatory for teachers/ early learning/ day care/ kinder?

It is not compulsory for teachers, educators and carers to wear face coverings while teaching or caring for children as face coverings can interfere with their ability to clearly communicate with students or children in their care. Teachers, educators and carers can choose to wear face coverings if they wish when teaching or providing care for children.
 
Teachers, educators and carers must wear face coverings in other areas of the school/ facility when not teaching or providing care.

Do students at schools need to wear a face covering?

Students under the age of 12 do not have to wear face coverings. Students ages 12 and over in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will need to wear face coverings from 11:59pm on Wednesday 22 July. 

However, children who are aged 12 and over and are attending primary school do not need to wear a face covering at school. The Victorian Chief Health Officer has advised that it is not practical to require some primary school students to wear face coverings while others are not required to.

For the same reason, children aged 12 and older who live in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire do not need to wear a face covering if they attend school in regional Victoria.

Students who attend a specialist school are not required to wear a face covering but may do so if they or their family choose to. Students are not required to wear a face covering where their disability means it would not be suitable.

Work

Can I take off my face covering if I find it uncomfortable whilst working?

It is important that you wear your face covering when at work, but some people may require short breaks from wearing their face covering. When you do so, ensure you are not near other people, and follow this advice when removing your face covering:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Don’t touch the front of the mask or your face.
  • Carefully remove your mask by grasping the ear loops or untying the ties. For masks with a pair of ties, unfasten the bottom one first, then the top one.
  • If your mask has filters, remove them and throw them away. Fold the mask and put it directly into the laundry or into a disposable or washable bag for laundering. Single use surgical masks should be disposed of responsibly.
  • Clean your hands again.

Only a short break should be required.


Do I need to wear a face covering at my place of work or my desk even if I am 1.5 metres away from others?

Yes, if you live in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire you must wear a face covering when you leave your home for one of the four reasons, which includes working, unless an exception applies. If you work in an enclosed office on your own, you don’t have to wear a mask while at your desk. If someone enters your space and when you leave it, you need to wear a mask. 

Do I need to wear a face covering at home if I work from home and it is currently considered my workplace?

If you are working from home, you do not need to wear a face covering, unless you are caring for someone at home who has coronavirus (COVID-19).

As an employer, do I need to require my staff to wear face coverings?

Yes, you are required to ensure your employees wear face coverings if they are working, unless an exception applies.

Do residents of aged care facilities and other group homes need to wear face coverings at all times?

The requirement to wear face coverings applies when people are outside of their home for one of the four reasons. It does not apply to aged care residents or other group homes residents while they are in the facility. However, it does apply to the facility’s staff and visitors inside the facility and when a resident leaves the facility for one of the four reasons.

I work in a call centre, do I need to wear a face covering when I am speaking with people on the telephone?

Yes. Due to the number of people who work closely together in call centres, these workplaces represent a risk for transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Do construction workers have to wear a face covering?

Yes. Construction workers will have to wear a face covering unless they meet any of the criteria for exception such as a medical condition or if wearing a face covering creates a risk to the person related to their work, as determined through OH&S guidelines.

What about the barista at my coffee shop?

Yes. Within metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell, baristas will have to wear a face covering unless they meet any of the criteria for lawful excuses such as a medical condition. 

What about the supermarket employee on the checkout?

Yes. Within metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell, supermarket employees will have to wear a face covering unless they meet any of the criteria for lawful excuses such as a medical condition.

Exercise

Wearing a face covering while exercising is hard, do I have to do it?

If you are doing strenuous exercise, such as jogging, running or cycling, you do not need to wear a face covering. You do have to carry a face covering with you so you can wear it before or after exercising. 

You must wear a face covering when walking for exercise even if the 1.5 metre physical distancing is maintained unless you have a lawful excuse such as a medical condition, where it would be dangerous to have obstructed breathing while walking around.

Cloth masks

If it’s a reusable face covering how often do I have to wash it?

A cloth face covering can be washed and re-used. It should be washed after each time you use it and before you put it back on. It is a good idea to have at least two, so you always have a clean one available.

Keep a paper bag or zip lock bag with you to carry fresh face coverings to keep them clean.

Can I make my own face mask?

Yes, you can make your own mask, there are instructions on how to make your own mask (PDF).

How do I make it?

There are instructions on how to make your own mask here.

Does it have to have three layers?

While the Chief Health Officer recommends a mask made of three layers of a mix of breathable fabrics to ensure adequate protection, any face mask or covering is better than none.

Can I wear a disposable mask?

Yes. You should, however, dispose of it responsibly in the rubbish bin after one use.  

Can it just be a scarf or does it have to be a certain kind of face covering?

While the Chief Health Officer recommends a cloth mask made of three layers of a mix of breathable fabrics to ensure adequate protection, any face mask or covering is better than none. This includes a scarf or bandana.

Wearing a mask

How do I stop face covering fogging up my glasses?

Make sure the face covering is fitted and pinched on your nose if possible.  Put your glasses on after the face covering. 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 face covering 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 covering on and your glasses on top.

Do I need to wear a face covering when I am driving?

If you are driving alone or only travelling with people from your household, you do not need to wear a face covering.  You should put your face covering on before you leave your vehicle or if you wind down the window to talk to someone. 

If you are driving with people for work or people you don’t live with then you must wear a face covering.

You must wear a face covering if you are a passenger or driver in a commercial vehicle such as a taxi or uber. 

Can I still visit my partner? Do I need to wear a face covering?

Partners living separately can visit each other at home. You can travel to or from metropolitan Melbourne or the Shire of Mitchell to visit your partner. You do not need to wear a face covering while at home together.

However, if you are visiting your partner in metropolitan Melbourne or the Shire of Mitchell, you must abide by the Stay at Home restrictions. And if you live in metropolitan Melbourne or the Shire of Mitchell and visit your partner in another part of Victoria, you must also abide by the Stay at Home restrictions. For example, if you live in Altona and you visit your partner at their home in Ballarat, you are not permitted to go out for dinner or a drink in Ballarat. You must also wear a face covering whenever you leave your partner’s home. 

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

You can remove your face covering if you are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication. 

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

Can I take my face covering off when eating or drinking?

Yes. You can take your face covering off when eating or drinking. You should maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres and practise good hygiene.

Eating and drinking should not be used as an excuse not to wear a face covering. You must use common sense and wear a face covering at all times possible.

Do I still need to wear a face covering if I am well and live in regional Victoria?

It is recommended that you wear a face covering in a regional area if you leave your home and are not able to keep 1.5 metres away from other people, like when you are shopping.  

You should not travel into metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire unless it is for one of the three reasons permitted to travel into this area. If you do have to go to metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire for one of the three reasons – shopping for food and supplies, medical care and caregiving, and education or work, if you can’t do it from home – you must wear a face covering unless an exception applies.

Enforcement

What happens if I don’t wear a face covering?

We are asking everyone who lives in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire to wear face coverings when they leave home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Fines of $200 may be issued to people who do not wear a face covering unless they have a valid reason for an exception. 

Will I be fined for not carrying a face covering with me?

You must carry a face covering with you unless you have a lawful excuse for not wearing a face covering such as a medical condition or are under the age of 12. You can be fined if you don’t wear or carry a face covering.

You can also use a scarf or bandana instead of a face covering. You can also make your own face covering (Word).



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