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Face masks — coronavirus (COVID-19)

Face mask requirements from 22 January

Face masks are mandatory at all times in the following situations:

  • when you are in a Queensland airport
  • during a domestic commercial flight
  • if you are arriving to Queensland from overseas or from a COVID-19 hotspot you must wear a face mask while travelling from the airport until you reach your allocated room in your quarantine accommodation
  • if you are a driver of a bus, coach service, taxi or rideshare transporting a person required to quarantine.

There are some exceptions to wearing a face mask, including:

  • children under 12
  • a person eating, drinking or taking medicine
  • where visibility of the mouth is essential
  • where a mask needs to be removed to clearly communicate
  • a person with a particular medical condition or disability
  • a person undergoing medical treatment
  • if a person is asked to remove a face mask for identity purposes
  • if wearing a mask creates a risk to a person’s health and safety
  • for emergencies or when allowed by law
  • in any circumstances when it’s not safe to wear a mask.

Face masks alone will not protect you from COVID-19. Social distancing is the gold standard of COVID-19 prevention methods, coupled with washing your hands regularly.

We understand there are situations where you may not be able to maintain social distancing. Keep a mask with you, so that if you get into one of those situations, you have some added protection. When attending a big event or travelling on public transport we strongly recommend you wear a mask especially when entering, exiting or moving through areas where lots of people are gathered.

How to wear a mask

  1. Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub (made up of over 60% alcohol or 70% isopropanol) before you put on your mask.
  2. Hold the mask by its tapes or loops, then tie the mask around your head or put the loops around your ears.
  3. Make sure the mask completely covers your mouth and nose, and that there are no gaps between your face and the mask. If you are using a surgical mask, press the nose piece around your nose.

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 securely on your face.

Make sure that your mask does not have holes or a valve, as if you have COVID-19, you can breathe out the virus.

Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth or the front of the mask while wearing it.

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

Dispose of a single-use mask correctly

When disposing of a mask, put it in a sealable bag to ensure the used mask won’t be touched by others. Then put the sealed bag in the bin.

Always clean your hands immediately after removing your mask and putting it in the bin.

Recommended types of face masks or other face coverings

The best face mask is a single-use surgical mask – you can purchase these at pharmacies. If you are unable to get a surgical mask, any paper or cloth masks are fine to use. The most effective cloth masks are made up of at least 3 layers.

Make your own cloth mask

You can make your own cloth mask. Read more: How to make a cloth mask.

Washing a reusable cloth face mask

Cloth masks should be washed after every use.

They can be washed in the washing machine with other clothes, or handwashed using soap and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth. Dry the cloth mask in the clothes dryer or in fresh air before you re-use it.

Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub (made up of over 60% alcohol or 70% isopropanol) after handling used face masks.

How often to change your face mask

You cannot re-use surgical masks.

You can wash and re-use cloth masks. It is a good idea to have at least two, so you will always have a clean one available.

On a single trip away from home there might be times when you can’t stay 1.5 metres away from other people and wear a mask, and times when you can maintain the distance and don’t need to wear a mask. For instance, you might take crowded public transport to and from work, but at work be able to maintain appropriate distancing.

Don’t re-use the same mask to go home that you used on the trip to work. Throw used surgical masks in the bin or store used cloth masks in a plastic bag until you can wash them.

Re-using a cloth mask without washing it is risky, because it can become contaminated or may not be as effective in protecting you. For each new situation put on a clean mask. Carry your clean masks in a plastic or paper bag to keep them clean.

Questions and answers about face masks

Questions about face masks

When do I have to wear a face mask?

Face masks are a useful measure to help control sustained community transmission. At this time, we do not have sustained community transmission in Queensland.

There are some environments however, that present a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission whether there is community transmission or not. It is necessary to wear masks in these high-risk environments to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in Queensland.

Identified high risk environments include airports, domestic flights and vehicles transporting people to and from quarantine hotels.

Who doesn’t have to wear a face mask?

#exceptions

There are some exceptions to wearing a face mask in airports in Queensland, on domestic flights and in vehicles transporting people to and from quarantine hotels.

These exceptions include:

  • children under 12
  • a person eating, drinking or taking medicine
  • where visibility of the mouth is essential – for example, a person communicating to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, a teacher or live broadcasting
  • a person with a particular medical condition or disability that may be made worse by wearing a mask – for example, a person who has breathing difficulties, a serious skin condition on their face, a mental health condition or psychological impacts from experienced trauma
  • a person undergoing medical treatment – for example, a person receiving first aid
  • if a person is asked to remove a face mask for identity
  • if wearing a mask creates a risk to a person’s health and safety
  • for emergencies or if required by law – for example, if a customs officer requires a person to remove their mask for a cavity search
  • in any circumstances where it is not safe to wear a face mask.

If you remove your face mask for any reason, you must put it back on as soon as practicable.

Do I have to provide a medical certificate to prove I can't wear a mask due to my medical condition?

You do not need a medical certificate to prove you have a lawful reason for not wearing a face mask.

If a service provider, school or employer asks for a medical certificate to confirm you have a lawful medical reason for not wearing a mask before entering their premises, this may amount to unlawful discrimination.

Whether it is lawful will depend on whether asking you to provide the medical certificate is reasonably necessary to protect the health and safety of other people, such as other customers or employees.

Find out more information about COVID-19 and human rights.

In what situations can air crew or airport workers remove their mask?

As well as the exceptions listed above, air crew or airport workers who are not interacting directly with passengers do not need to wear a face mask while on an aircraft. This includes if the aircraft has no passengers or if they are in secluded areas – for example, a pilot in the cockpit.

Do I have to wear a mask if I’m driving a vehicle with no passengers?

Yes. You must wear a mask in all indoor and outdoor areas of Queensland airports, even if you are alone in a vehicle.

Do people who work for businesses within the perimeter of an airport or aerodrome have to wear a mask?

Yes. Anyone who works for businesses that are located within the perimeter of an aerodrome such as transport operators, offices and maintenance facilities must comply with the face mask requirements under the Direction.

What type of mask can I wear? Will it be provided to me?

You must obtain your own face mask. The best face mask is a single-use surgical mask – you can purchase these at pharmacies. If you are unable to get a surgical mask, any cloth mask with at least 3 layers is permitted.

Find out how to use, wear and dispose of a face mask.

How can I wear a face mask if I have a hearing aid or wear garments that cover my head or face?

If you wear a hearing aid we recommend considering wearing a mask that ties around your head, rather than over the ears to ensure the ties do not get tangled in your hearing aid.

There are a range of face masks available that can be worn with traditional and religious garments. These include face masks that are tied around the head, rather than looped over the ears. If you wear a face covering, like a veil or scarf, you should wear your face mask beneath this covering your nose and mouth.

Find out how to use, wear and dispose of a face mask.

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

Try one of these tips to help prevent your face mask fogging your glasses:

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

Find out how to use, wear and dispose of a face mask.

How do I wear a mask correctly if I have a big beard?

Ensure the mask covers your nose and mouth, regardless of any facial hair. For non-medical face masks, you do not have to achieve a seal with the mask against the skin of your face.

There are different shapes and sizes of fabric non-medical masks available, some of which may be a more comfortable option if you have facial hair.

Who are air crew and airport workers?

Air crew means a person on a commercial domestic flight landing or taking off in Queensland who is:

  • a pilot or crew member providing essential safety or maintenance functions or cabin crew member actively servicing a commercial domestic flight
  • an off-shift pilot or crew member providing essential safety or maintenance functions or cabin crew member travelling to reposition to commence duty in Queensland or another State or Territory
  • an aeromedical services crew member providing patient transport or emergency medical care to a patient
  • an off-shift aeromedical services crew member who is travelling as a passenger on an aircraft to reposition to commence duty in Queensland or another State of Territory.

Airport worker means a person at a Queensland airport who is:

  • an engineer or other technical staff
  • a cleaner
  • a baggage handler
  • a person involved in the delivery or removal of food, goods or other things in connection with an aircraft
  • an employee of an airline other than air crew
  • a person providing law enforcement or border security services.

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

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

While there isn’t enough evidence to be certain that people who smoke are more likely to be infected by COVID-19, the act of smoking means that fingers are in contact with your lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth.

Find out more about smoking and COVID-19.