Who does not need to wear a face mask

For some people wearing a face mask is unsuitable. Find where a mask does not need to be worn, who does not need to wear one, and how to get a Mask Exemption Pass if you need one.

When face masks do not need to be worn

There are some situations where a face mask does not need to be worn.

In general, you should wear a face mask whenever you can. COVID-19 is transmitted by particles, so masks are a way we can protect ourselves and each other.

If you are around people you do not know, it is a good idea to wear a mask.

Face masks do not need to be worn:

  • by children under 12 — except at Red for those aged 8 years or over or in Year 4 or above when indoors at school and on public and school transport
  • at an indoor gathering if there is exclusive use of the venue or defined space, for example, weddings or funerals
  • on a boat or ship that has no enclosed space for passengers, for example, jet boat tours
  • on charter or group tours
  • on private flights
  • by drivers, pilots, staff or crew of the service if they are in a space completely separated from passengers, for example, pilot in a cockpit, train driver in a train cab, or a captain on a ferry
  • when at a voting place to vote in an election. This also applies to anyone supporting or assisting you when you go to vote.

You also do not need to wear face mask if:

  • you have been issued an exemption pass
  • you are outdoors
  • you are exercising
  • it is unsafe, for example, if wearing one means a driver cannot safely operate the vehicle
  • there is an emergency
  • you have a physical or mental health illness or condition or disability that makes wearing a face mask unsuitable
  • you need to prove your identity
  • you need to communicate with someone who is deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind or has a disability which makes it hard to have effective communication
  • you need to take medicine
  • you need to eat or drink if eating or drinking is usually allowed
  • it is not required by law.

If you cannot wear a face mask

We know face masks are unsuitable for some people due to disabilities or health conditions. You still have the right to food, pharmacies, education and other services.

If you cannot wear a face mask, you can apply for a Mask Exemption Pass. You can show the card to transport operators, retailers and service providers. It can help make it easier to explain that a face mask is unsuitable for you.

You do not have to show a Mask Exemption Pass if you cannot wear a face mask — but it may help you feel more comfortable.

Apply for a Mask Exemption Pass (external link)

Advice if you cannot wear a face mask

Sometimes the reason why a face mask is unsuitable for you is not obvious to others. You should not worry if a business owner or employee approaches you to ask whether you are able to wear a face mask. They are just ensuring the safety of you and others.

It is inappropriate for a business owner or employee to enquire about the nature of your disability or condition. But it is reasonable for them to check whether you are exempt from the rule to wear a face mask.

Keeping up healthy habits

If you cannot wear a face mask, make sure you keep up other healthy habits when in public or while accessing businesses and services.

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Keep a 2 metre distance from people you do not know.
  • Regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands often.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow.

You can also consider if there are delivery or click-and-collect options you could use instead of entering a retail store. Or ask family and friends to pick things up for you.

People at higher risk from COVID-19

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