Should I wear a mask?

Wearing face masks may protect you from droplets when a person with COVID-19 speaks, coughs, or sneezes, and you are less than 1.5 metres away from them. Wearing a mask will also help protect others if you are infected with the virus, but do not have symptoms of infection.


If your immune system is compromised, then there may be some situations where wearing a mask could reduce your risk from COVID-19. This will primarily be in situations where maintaining physical distancing is difficult such as:


  • When using public transport.
  • In crowded places.
  • During hospital or GP visits where encounters cannot be avoided.

If you do use a mask, a surgical or cloth mask is sufficient. You should not use a P2 or N95 mask, or a mask with a valve. Surgical masks are disposable, so if you chose to use a surgical mask, it should not be reused. When putting the mask on or taking the mask off, try to only touch the mask by the straps that go over the ears. Once the mask is on, do not remove it and put it back on – it should remain in place until you are finished wearing it.



If you are unable to avoid people who do have flu-like symptoms, such as members of your household, then encouraging them to wear a mask at home may also help to protect you.


It is important to remember that a mask is not a substitute for maintaining physical distance, hand hygiene, and at least daily cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. You can find more information on these precautions under ‘Are there any additional precautions I should take if I have or have had cancer?


Health experts are also now recommending face masks in areas of Australia where community transmission of COVID-19 is high. You should follow the advice of your state or territory government to determine if it is necessary for you to wear a mask when you leave home.


You can read more about face masks and coverings here.

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Last update:
September 2020
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