Face masks

Last Updated: 11 Jun 2021 12:14am

The main reason for wearing a mask is to protect other people. If a person is unknowingly infected with COVID-19, wearing a mask reduces the chance of them passing the virus on to others.

For people at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness due to older age or chronic health conditions, physical distancing is most important. If you cannot maintain physical distance, wearing a mask is an important protective measure.

There are times when wearing a face mask is mandatory in Tasmania. The face mask must cover the person’s mouth and nose.

You must wear a facemask in the following situations when in Tasmania:

Face masks may also be required in other situations if there are positive cases of COVID-19 in Tasmania.

It is a good idea to keep a small supply of facemasks at home for you and other household members over 12 years old, in case you are required to wear a face mask in some public spaces on short notice, such as if COVID-19 cases were to occur in Tasmania.

Frequently asked Questions

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

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 hand washed 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 hand sanitiser (made up of over 60% alcohol or 70% isopropanol) after handling used face masks.

How often to change your face mask

  • Surgical and paper masks should only be used once.
  • If you choose to use a cloth mask, you can wash and re-use them many times. It is a good idea to have at least two, so you will always have a clean one available.
  • Don’t re-use the same mask to go home that you used on the trip to a location.
  • 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.

Acceptable face masks, as defined by Public Health, include face coverings that fit securely around the face and are designed to be worn over the nose and mouth to provide protection against infection. This does not include face shields.

You can use either disposable (single use) face masks or reusable cloth masks. A disposable mask should be replaced with a new mask if you need to take it off for any reason.

Public Health does not recommend the use of scarves or bandanas as face masks.

For face masks to be effective, they must be worn properly. An incorrectly-used face mask can contribute to spread of the virus.

To use face masks safely:

  • Keep your masks in a plastic bag (preferably a zip-lock bag) until you need to use them.
  • Before putting your mask on, wash your hands all over with soap and water (including your fingertips), rinse and dry well. Alternatively, use alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask. Tie in place or hook the elastic loops over your ears.
  • When wearing the mask, be careful to only touch the ties or elastic.
  • Don’t touch the front or inside of your mask. If you do, wash your hands immediately or use alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Replace the mask with a new one if it gets damp. Do not reuse disposable masks.

To remove the mask:

  1. To remove the mask, untie or unhook the loops from your ears and take the mask away from your face being careful not to touch the front or inside of the mask
  2. If your mask is disposable, put it straight into a rubbish bin or into a plastic bag to store until you get to a rubbish bin. If your mask is cloth and reusable, put it in a plastic bag to store until you can wash it.
  3. Wash your hands all over with soap and water, rinse and dry well. Alternatively use alcohol-based hand rub.

For more information visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.