COVID-19 Coronavirus: Face masks

Information about mask rules in Western Australia and the different types of face masks.

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, which lowers your chance of spreading or catching them.

In Western Australia, masks are strongly encouraged indoors especially in crowded spaces. There are also places where masks are required, such as hospitals and residential care facilities.

It’s important to understand the different types of masks and how often you should change your face mask.

What are the mask rules in WA?

In Western Australia, masks are required for people aged 12 years and older in the following settings:

  • Hospitals and health care settings including:
    • GPs
    • Aboriginal health services
    • Dental and optical health clinics
    • Allied health services such as physiotherapy, radiology and occupational therapy services
  • Aged care facilities, residential care facilities including disability service facilities and mental health residential facilities
  • Public and passenger transport, including school buses, taxis and rideshare vehicles
  • Correctional facilities
  • Aircrafts

The usual exemptions from mask requirements apply, such as when you’re eating or drinking, if you have a medical exemption, or if you’re undergoing medical or dental treatment that requires you to remove your face mask.

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.

When you’re ready to take off your surgical mask, make sure you wash or sanitise your hands before removing your mask and putting it in the rubbish bin. When you’ve put your mask in the bin, make sure you wash or sanitise your hands again.

Cut the ear loops with scissors before putting it in the rubbish bin, so that the masks don’t cause any problems to wildlife if they end up in the environment.

If there isn’t a rubbish bin nearby, the mask must be taken to the nearest rubbish bin safely. This may need to be done in a bag such as a labelled resealable bag, which can then be put in the nearest rubbish bin.

Avoid placing used surgical masks in cars, pockets or handbags, as 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)

Fabric masks that are reusable should be washed at least once a day or when wet or dirty.

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.

Labelled resealable bags or plastic containers with a lid that can also be cleaned after each use are good way to store used fabric masks.

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 labelled 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.

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 5 August 2022