With new health advice now urging Melburnians to wear a face mask when out in public, millions are expected to don the look — despite it not being compulsory.
Here, we’ve compiled everything you need to know — from where to get a mask to just how, when and where they should be worn.
DO YOU HAVE TO WEAR A MASK?
Victorians living in or visiting metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire are urged to wear masks if they can’t physically distance, but it is not mandatory.
WILL YOU BE FINED OR ARRESTED IF YOU DON’T WEAR A MASK?
No. Wearing masks is a recommendation only and will not be enforced or policed.
DO YOU HAVE TO BUY ONE OR WILL THE GOVERNMENT GIVE YOU ONE?
The state government is sourcing two million reusable face masks and a million single-use masks and will distribute them across Victoria with priority consideration given to the most vulnerable. Homemade masks or scarfs can also be used.
DO STUDENTS HAVE TO WEAR ONE AT SCHOOL?
No. The recommendation does not apply to wearing masks in schools and early childhood settings.
SHOULD YOU WEAR ONE WHEN SHOPPING?
Yes, shopping for essentials is one of the reasons Victorians in lockdown are allowed to leave their home. Wearing a mask while shopping, if you can’t distance yourself, is key advice under the new recommendation.
WHERE ELSE SHOULD YOU WEAR A MASK?
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said “public transport, taxis, Ubers, shopping for food and goods, and visiting your GP, were “really important times to wear a mask”. “Of course, all other circumstances that are not essential, you should be home,” he said.
WHAT DO THEY HELP?
Studies have recently shown that even when factoring in imperfections and human error, wearing face masks can reduce transmission of coronavirus by about 60 per cent.
WHY HAS ADVICE ON WEARING MASKS CHANGED?
Before the most recent studies, advice around the effectiveness of face masks in reducing transmission had been contradictory and lacking in evidence.
SHOULD I STILL WEAR A FACE MASK IF I’M SEEING SOMEONE I KNOW?
Yes, coronavirus is incredibly infectious. It is recommended you were a mask even if you’re familiar with these people you are seeing.
WHAT TYPE OF MASK SHOULD I USE?
Cloth masks should have three layers of a mix of breathable fabrics to ensure adequate protection. Surgical masks are considered ”vital supplies” so it’s recommended they be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders. N95 and P2 masks are not recommended for community use.
ARE CLOTH MASKS AS EFFECTIVE AS SURGICAL MASKS IN PROTECTING AGAINST COVID-19?
Cloth masks are helpful in containing droplets when people cough, reducing the likelihood the virus will spread. DHHS has said “re-usable cloth masks are preferred for use in the community to allow supplies of single-use face masks to be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders.”
CAN I WEAR A SCARF OR BANDANA?
These don’t offer the same protection as a cloth masks because of the material they are made of.
WHERE CAN I GET A MASK?
You can buy cloth masks or single-use masks for chemists and hardware stores. You can also make one at home.
HOW DO I WEAR A MASK CORRECTLY?
Cloth — the mask should fit snug on your face, covering the nose and mouth. Make sure your mask doesn’t have any holes or a valve. This can result in breathing out the virus
Single-use — wash your hands before putting on your mask, position it with the coloured side outward and, if it has one, make sure the metallic strip at the top sits on the bridge of your nose.
HOW SHOULD I WASH MY CLOTH MASK?
They can be washed in a machine or by hand with soap and warm water. They must be dried before reusing, if possible by placing it in direct sunlight.
CAN I REMOVE MY MASK TO SPEAK TO PEOPLE?
No, you should keep your mask on and maintain a 1.5m distance.
FOR FULL DETAILS: Go to www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/cloth-masks-covid-19