Here's what you need to know about the Victorian mask regulations

Mask wearing will be mandatory across all of Victoria from 11.59pm on Sunday, August 2
Mask wearing will be mandatory across all of Victoria from 11.59pm on Sunday, August 2

From 11.59pm on Sunday August 2, people in regional Victorian areas must wear a face mask or face covering when leaving home to provide an additional physical barrier to the spread of COVID-19

There are a number of lawful excuses for not wearing a face covering including if you have a medical condition or other condition that impairs your ability to wear a face covering, doing strenuous exercise or if you are unable to do your job while wearing a face covering.

People who do not wear face coverings and do not have a lawful excuse can be fined $200.

Children who are under the age of 12 years old do not need to wear a face covering. Children who are two years or younger must not wear face coverings as they are a choking and suffocation risk.

COVERING YOUR FACE

You must wear a face covering when you are leaving your home unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. This means either a face mask or face shield. A face covering needs to be worn covering both your nose and mouth.

Face masks are recommended and include any paper or textile covering designed or made to wear over the nose and mouth. It does not have to be medical grade and you can make your own. Here are the DHHS instructions on How to make a mask.

If a face mask is not available, a scarf or bandana may be used to cover the mouth and nose.

Face shields may also be worn. Face shields are any film made of plastic or other transparent material designed and made to be worn like a visor, covering from the forehead to below the chin and wrapping around the sides of the wearer's face.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton explains how to wear a mask

WHEN DO I HAVE TO WEAR A FACE COVERING?

Unless an exception applies, you must wear a face covering when you leave your home. This includes travelling on public transport, in a car with people outside your household, or if you are driving for work purposes such as if you are a delivery driver.

EXCEPTIONS FOR NOT WEARING A FACE COVERING

  • 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 condition of the face, a disability or a mental health condition.
  • Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, 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 doing any exercise or physical activity where they are out of breath or puffing; examples include jogging or running but not walking. You must carry a face covering on you and wear it when you finish exercising.
  • When directed 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 or medication.
  • 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 do not need a medical certificate stating that you have a lawful reason for not wearing a mask. If you have a lawful reason for not wearing a mask you do not need to apply for an exemption or permit but if stopped by police they will ask you to confirm why you are not wearing a mask.

DO I ALWAYS NEED TO CARRY MY MASK EVEN IF I DON'T THINK I'LL NEED IT (EXERCISING, EATING ETC)

You must carry a face covering with you when leaving home, 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.

CLOTH MASKS

A guide to make a cloth mask (PDF) that covers your nose and mouth and is made of washable fabric.

The chief health officer recommends a mask with three layers, but any face mask or covering is better than none. A scarf or bandana can also be used.

You can wear a disposable mask, but you should dispose of it in the rubbish bin after one use.

Spotlight's video tutorial on making a face mask

How do I wear a face covering correctly?

A cloth mask should fit securely around the face, specifically covering the nose and the mouth areas. The 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 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 mask does not have holes or any unfiltered one-way valves. This can result in breathing out the virus if you haveCOVID-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 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.

If wearing a surgical mask (single use) wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitiser made of over 60 per cent alcohol before putting on your mask. Check the mask for defects such as tears or broken loops, position the outer side of the mask outward according to manufacturer's instructions.

If your mask has a metallic strip, it should be at the top of the mask and positioned against the bridge of your nose.

If the mask has ear loops, hold the mask by both ear loops and place one loop over each ear. If it has ties, hold the mask by the upper strings, tie them in a secure bow near the crown of your head and tie the bottom strings securely near the nape of your neck.

Mould the bendable metallic upper strip to the shape of your nose by pinching and pressing down with your fingers. Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin, make sure it fits snugly and don't touch once it's in position.

If the mask gets soiled or damp, replace with a new one.

Where can I get a face covering?

You can buy cloth masks or surgical masks from retail outlets including chemists, hardware stores and other shops or you can follow directions to make your own cloth mask. Many online retailers are also selling cloth masks.

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 practice good hygiene. Eating and drinking should not be used as an excuse not to wear a mask. You must use common sense and wear a mask at all times where possible.

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 unless you have a lawful excuse.

You must wear a face covering if you are a passenger or driver in a commercial vehicle such as a taxi or Uber, unless you have a lawful excuse.

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 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 mask on and your glasses on top.

What's the best way to take off a 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 face covering or your face.
  • Carefully remove your face covering by grasping the ear loops or untying the ties. For face coverings with a pair of ties, unfasten the bottom one first, then the top one.
  • Fold the covering 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 by washing them or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

But by covering your face, youre protecting your community, and protecting those extra freedoms your community enjoys. By covering your face, youre keeping local businesses open, and keeping local people in work.

Premier Daniel Andrews

EXERCISE

Do I have to wear a face covering while exercising?

If you are doing exercise or physical activity where you are out of breath or puffing, such as jogging or running, 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, unless you have a lawful exception.

You must wear a face mask 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.

STUDY AND SCHOOL

Do children need to wear a face covering?

Children and people aged 12 years and older should wear a face covering. Children under the age of 12 years do not have to wear a face covering but individual families can make their own decisions regarding their children.

Children under two years should never wear a face covering due to choking and strangulation risks.

Will face coverings masks 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 they can interfere with their ability to clearly communicate with students. Teachers, educators and carers can choose to wear masks if they wish when in the classroom/ facility or when teaching or providing care for children.

Teachers, educators and carers should wear masks in other areas of the school/ facility when not teaching.

Damascus College and Ballarat's Catholic secondary schools started wearing masks in class on Monday, a week before they become mandatory in regional areas.

Damascus College and Ballarat's Catholic secondary schools started wearing masks in class on Monday, a week before they become mandatory in regional areas.

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 will need to wear face coverings under current restrictions.

However, children who are aged 12 and over and are attending primary school do not need to wear a face covering at school. The 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.

Students over 12 years old who attend a specialist school are not required to wear a face covering where their disability means it would not be suitable, but may do so if they or their family choose to.

WORK AND VOLUNTEERING

Do I have to wear a face covering while working?

Yes, you have to wear a face covering unless you meet one of the reasons for exemptions such as a medical condition.

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

You must wear your face covering at work, but some people may require short breaks from wearing their face covering. When you do, ensure you are not near other people and follow the advice for removing your covering. 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, unless an exception applies.

SHOPPING AND RETAIL

Can I refuse someone access to my premises if they are not wearing a face covering?

Yes. You can ask someone not to enter your premises if they are not wearing a face covering unless they have a lawful reason not to wear a face covering.

Can I be refused entry or service if I am not wearing a face covering?

Yes, unless you have a lawful exception for not wearing a face covering. For their own and other customer's safety, a business owner or worker can ask you not to enter until you wear a face covering such as a mask.

Can someone ask me to remove my face covering to check my ID?

Banks, police, post offices and other services can ask that you remove your face covering to check your identity.

When buying alcohol or tobacco you may be asked by staff to remove your face covering as part of checking your ID.

Will business owners be fined if customers refuse to wear face coverings?

A business owner will not be fined if a customer refuses to wear a face covering without a lawful excuse. The penalty would be applied to the customer.

As a business owner, if a staff member or customer refuses to wear a face covering will I be fined?

Responsibility for wearing a face covering rests with the individual. Individuals who do not wear a face covering and do not have a lawful reason can be fined $200. A business owner will not be fined if a customer refuses to wear a face covering.

An employer must take reasonable steps to ensure an employee that is working at the employer's premises wears a face covering at all times when working at the employer's premises, unless a lawful exception applies.

SOURCE: DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

This story What you need to know about masks first appeared on The Courier.