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ACT government qualifies the mandatory wearing of masks

Residents of Canberra were recently slapped with a compulsory putting on of masks in public places. The new development took the resident by surprise as they are not used to covering their mouths and faces.

Canberra Live publishes below a full statement on the ACT’s website detailing the rationale behind the Covid 19 preventative measures:

Face masks must be designed or made to be worn over the mouth and nose and should fit securely around your face to provide the wearer with protection against infection.

Use either single-use masks or reusable cloth masks. Scarves, bandannas, and face shields are not adequate substitutes for masks.

Single-use masks should be made with a non-woven, melt-blown polypropylene layer. They should not contain holes or valves. Always source single-use masks from reputable outlets such as chemists and supermarkets, and—as the name makes clear—only use each mask once. For each situation put on a new, clean mask.

Reusable cloth masks should have at least three layers of fabric to ensure adequate protection. Wash and dry reusable masks after use and store in a clean, dry place.

The NSW Government provides useful information about what kind of masks are suitable, where to get them and how to wear them.

When must I wear a face mask?

You must wear a fitted face covering at all times when:

  • On a public transport service or at a public transport waiting area, including
    • Taxi services
    • Rideshare services
    • Bus and light rail services
    • Community transport services
    • Stations or platforms for rail/bus/lightrail
    • Bus stops and taxi ranks (including any area where people queue or gather)
  • In indoor retail premises or business premises that provide goods or services to members of the public who attend the premises (other than a hospitality venue, health service or kiosk), including the following:
    • Supermarkets
    • Shopping centres (including food courts)
    • Bank branches
    • Post offices
    • Pharmacies
    • Hairdressing salons
    • Nail salons
    • Beauty salons (removal of the face covering is permitted if necessary for the proper provision of the goods and services)
    • Tanning salons
    • Waxing salons
    • Spas
    • Tattoo parlours
    • Massage parlours
    • Betting agencies
    • Community centres, youth centres or facilities
    • Auction houses
    • Real estate auctions / display homes / open homes
    • Galleries / museums / national institutions
  • In any indoor part of premises licensed under the Liquor Act that is used primarily for the purposes of gaming, including a gaming lounge
  • In indoor entertainment facilities including
    • Cinemas or movie theatres
    • Events and event performances
  • In indoor premises being used for public worship or religious services, including places of worship
  • Visiting or working within residential aged care facilities. (Note: residents of an aged care facility are exempt.)
  • Working at a hospitality venue in the ACT in a role which requires you to deal directly with members of the public. This includes
    • casinos
    • food and drink premises
    • micro-breweries and small distilleries
    • pubs
    • registered clubs
    • small bars
  • Dropping off and picking up children from childcare/after school care

Requirements do not apply to individuals who are working on a premises outlined above if the person does not interact directly with members of the public. This does not include persons working at residential aged care facilities.

Under a Public Health Direction effective from 11.59pm on Friday 22 January 2021, face masks are mandatory inside the Canberra Airport terminal and during domestic commercial flights in and out of Canberra.

Hospitality venues

The Public Health Direction requires a person that is working at a hospitality venues to wear a mask where that person is dealing directly with members of the public.  Owners of these venues must ensure that staff are complying with this requirement.

Under the Public Health Direction, patrons are not required to wear a mask when in a hospitality venue. This aligns with requirements currently in place in regional NSW.

However ACT Health recommends that patrons consider wearing a mask when they are moving within a venue, for example if they are ordering at a counter, using the bathrooms, or standing in an area whilst waiting for take away.  There is no need to wear a mask when seated. This also aligns with the regional NSW advice.

Gyms and sport

When visiting a gym, we ask that you keep your mask on when entering the facility, waiting for classes and in other common areas. You can remove it to do your workout and put it back on afterwards.

When attending indoor sports, participants and referees are required to wear masks before and after games as well as in common areas. Participants and referees are not required to wear masks while competing. Spectators and coaches are required to wear masks at all times when they are inside.

When attending outdoor sports, spectators are not required to wear masks.

Dance classes

When attending dance classes, anyone over the age of 12 years is asked to wear a mask when entering the venue, waiting for classes or while in other common areas. Masks can be removed when participating in the dance class, but it must be put back on afterwards.

Dance instructors can remove their mask whilst instructing a class, but should wear a mask before and after each class.

Spectators and anyone that may be waiting in a dance venue should wear a mask at all times while they are inside.

When can I remove my face mask?

You can remove a fitted face covering when

  • You are eating or drinking
  • You are communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • You are at work and the nature of your work makes the wearing of a fitted face covering a risk to your health and safety or another person’s health and safety
  • Clear enunciation or visibility of the person’s mouth is essential
  • In an emergency
  • Removal of the covering is necessary for the proper provision of the goods and services, for instance if a hairdresser or beautician needs their client to remove their mask to deliver a service
  • Exercising, including in a gym
  • Participating in sport
  • Working in child or after school care holiday programs
  • Working in an office environment, unless you work in a customer service role where you are regularly interacting with the public.

Who does NOT need to wear a face mask?

Face mask requirements do not apply to:

  • Persons aged 12 years or under,
  • A person with a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability that makes wearing a fitted face covering unsuitable including for example a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma.

Are there any exceptions to wearing a face mask?

Please remember not everyone can wear a mask safely, including some people with a disability.

If you can wear a mask, you should.

If you can’t, don’t panic.

Even in places where wearing face masks is mandatory, there are exceptions or lawful reasons not to wear one.

In some situations, wearing a face mask will not be appropriate for people with some disabilities, physical or mental health conditions.

If you have a condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you may wish to ask your registered health practitioner or disability care provider to issue a letter confirming this, next time you are in contact with them. Although this is not a requirement under the public health order.

Are there penalties for not wearing a face mask?

The maximum penalty you may face for not wearing a face mask is $8,000.

How do I properly wear a face mask?

The NSW Government has a step-by-step guide on how to put on, wear and dispose of a face mask.

Here are some handy tips for wearing a mask:

  • Wash or sanitise your hands before putting on or taking off your mask
  • Ensure the mask covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
  • Refrain from touching the front of your mask while wearing or removing it
  • Do not allow the mask to hang around your neck or under your nose
  • Do not reuse single-use masks, for each situation put on a new, clean mask
  • Carry clean masks in a paper or zip-lock bag
  • Wash and dry reusable masks after use and store in a clean, dry place
  • You may use a single-use mask continuously for up to 4 hours, as long as it does not become moist, soiled or damaged. Do not store and reuse single-use masks
  • If your single-use or cloth mask gets soiled or damp, replace it with a new one.

Masks are just one line of defence against COVID-19 and are not a substitute for other precautions. Continue physical distancinghand and respiratory hygiene, staying at home if you are unwell, and getting tested if you have symptoms.

–ACT Government website

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