Wearing a face mask
Where you must wear a face mask
You must wear a face mask when visiting most healthcare services. This includes if you are visiting or with a patient or if you are there for another reason, other than being a patient or healthcare worker.
This is to help protect those at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
For example, you must wear a face mask when visiting:
- doctors' clinics
- community and iwi health providers
- pharmacies — but not those inside supermarkets
- urgent care services, such as after-hours clinics
- disability support services
- residential care for older people and people with disabilities
- diagnostic services such as blood testing or radiology services
- dentists and oral health services
- other health services such as optometrists, physiotherapists, or chiropractors.
You do not need to wear a face mask if:
- you live at a residential care service
- you visit psychotherapy, counselling, or mental health and addiction services.
Patients and healthcare workers
For patients and workers at healthcare services, face mask requirements will be decided locally. The Ministry of Health has information for staff about using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks.
Infection prevention and control for health and disability workers | Ministry of Health (external link)
Mask-wearing in healthcare settings | Ministry of Health (external link)
Where face masks are recommended
As cases rise, we strongly encourage you to wear a face mask in closed, crowded and confined spaces.
Face masks help protect yourself and others around you, especially people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. This includes older people, people with compromised immunity and disabled people.
We encourage you to wear a face mask if you are:
- a Household Contact and testing daily for 5 days
- at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
- keen to reduce your risk of becoming sick.
We also encourage you to wear a face mask in these places:
- public transport, including buses, commuter trains, indoors on ferries, flights, taxis and ride-shares
- crowded places
- enclosed spaces with poor ventilation
- close contact settings, such as face-to-face conversations.
Patients at healthcare services
We strongly recommend patients at any healthcare service wear a face mask if they can.
Some healthcare services may ask you to wear a face mask whatever your reason for being there.
Face mask use at other locations
Some places, such as workplaces, special events or marae, may still ask you to wear a face mask as a condition of entry. This is their decision and no longer a government requirement.
Face masks remain an important defence against COVID-19. The government will regularly review their use.
Video: Supporting those unable to wear face masks
If you cannot wear a face mask
Face masks are unsuitable for some people due to disabilities or health conditions.
If you cannot wear a face mask, you can apply for a Mask Exemption Pass. 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 — but it may help you feel more comfortable.
Advice for people who have difficulties wearing a face mask
How to apply for a Mask Exemption Pass
- Visit My Covid Record (external link)
- Text 8988 (for hearing impaired)
- Call 0800 11 12 13
When applying for a Mask Exemption Pass, you are making a legal declaration that at least 1 of these applies to you.
- A physical illness.
- A mental illness.
- A condition or disability.
These categories may not specifically explain your situation, choose the one that best suits you. You can apply on behalf of someone else using these options.
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