COVID-19 coronavirus: Face masks

Recommendations for when to wear a mask and the different types of masks available.

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Face masks are a simple and effective way to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses. By wearing a face mask, you can help protect yourself and those around you.

Face masks can stop viruses spreading in the air when you talk, cough, sneeze and laugh. A well-fitted mask lowers your risk of spreading and catching viruses.

In Western Australia, you may be required to wear a mask for entry to high-risk settings. High-risk settings include hospitals, healthcare services, residential aged care and disability care facilities. Mask-wearing is also strongly encouraged in crowded indoor settings and where physical distancing is not possible.

What are the mask rules in WA?

Face masks are not mandatory in Western Australia, but they should be worn in crowded indoor spaces and where physical distancing is not possible.

Hospitals, healthcare settings and high-risk settings may have face mask policies for employees and visitors. This includes aged care facilities and residential care facilities including disability service and mental health residential facilities.

Refer to the hospital or healthcare setting for any face mask requirements and be sure to take a mask with you if you are attending a health care or high-risk facility.

What type of face mask should I wear?

Surgical masks

image of a young female person wearing a surgical face mask

Surgical masks are single-use items and must be disposed after every use. These are recommended if you:

  • are caring for someone with COVID-19;
  • have COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms,
  • are aged older than 60; or
  • have underlying medical conditions.

Surgical masks will need changing after 4 hours or if they become wet or dirty.

Wash or sanitise your hands before and after removing your mask. To dispose of your mask responsibly, cut the ear loops with scissors before putting it in the rubbish bin. This will reduce the risk of causing harm to wildlife.

Avoid placing used surgical masks in cars, pockets, or handbags. Used masks may pose a risk of contamination to other items/belongings and people.

Reusable fabric masks

Florist and shopper wearing masks

Reusable fabric masks should:

  • fit securely around your face;
  • cover your mouth and nose; and
  • be made from three layers (each layer requires a different type of fabric).

When you’re ready to take off your fabric mask, make sure you wash or sanitise your hands before removing your mask. Store it safely until you’re ready to wash it. Make sure you wash or sanitise your hands again. Store your mask in a resealable bag or container that can be cleaned after each use.

Fabric masks that are reusable should be washed at least once a day or when wet or dirty. Wash with laundry detergent on the hottest setting (preferably at least 60 degrees Celsius). If you are unable to machine wash, wash in hot water with a laundry detergent then rinse thoroughly.

Avoid using disinfectants to clean the mask because they may produce fumes that are harmful to inhale. Make sure your fabric mask is dry before re-using. Once dry, store your clean fabric masks in a resealable bag to protect from contamination.

Over time, your fabric masks will need to be replaced. Replace your fabric mask if:

  • it no longer fits snugly;
  • it starts to slide or fall off;
  • there are any holes;
  • you find you need to keep adjusting the fit; or
  • the material has started to wear or fray.

Frequently asked questions about face masks

Can face masks be recycled?

Single-use masks should be responsibly disposed of in the general rubbish bin. If a bin is not available, store it in a sealed plastic bag until can be disposed of appropriately. Check with your local city council to see if there are any face mask recycling initiatives near you. You should wash your hands after removing your mask.

Which masks are reusable?

Reusable fabric or cloth masks can be worn again if washed thoroughly in between use. Single-use masks cannot be reused. Store used fabric masks in a sealed bag until it can be washed.

Are face masks mandatory in WA?

Face masks are not mandatory in Western Australia, but they should be worn in crowded indoor spaces and where physical distancing is not possible.

Hospitals, healthcare settings and high-risk settings may have face mask policies for employees and visitors. This includes aged care facilities and residential care facilities including disability service and mental health residential facilities.

Refer to the hospital or healthcare setting for any face mask requirements and be sure to take a mask with you if you are attending a health care or high-risk facility.

Exemptions from mask requirements may apply. Please check with the facility directly if you require an exemption.

Can you use a bandana as a face mask in WA?

Bandanas and scarves are not suitable to be used as face masks.

Do I need to wear a face mask on public transport or in a rideshare?

While you do not have to wear a face mask on public transport or in a rideshare in WA, you are encouraged to wear a mask in crowded indoor settings and where social distancing is not possible.

Are face masks required at the airport?

No, face masks are no longer required to be worn in airport terminals in Australia.

Announcements

News story

How to reduce your risk of COVID-19 infection

Western Australians are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask indoors, and everyone aged 30 years and over is encouraged to get a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Page reviewed 16 December 2022