Using Face Masks Across Australia: The Rules and Regulations

Wednesday January 20, 2021

Ongoing community outbreaks of COVID-19 means regulations are constantly changing, including the use of face masks. Here’s a breakdown of the face mask regulations across Australia.

Advice from the Australian Government Department of Health

Combining the use of face masks in certain situations with proper hand and respiratory hygiene, as well as social distancing, can greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The great benefit of wearing a face mask is that it reduces the wearer’s chances of spreading the virus to others if they are unknowingly infected. Where there is significant community transmission, you may choose or be required to wear a face mask.

Current state and territory guidelines

Australian Capital Territory
Face masks are not required but be prepared for a time when they may be. Face masks are recommended for people who have COVID-like symptoms, are self-isolating or in quarantine who are leaving their home for an essential reason such as medical care.

New South Wales
Face masks are mandatory across Greater Sydney (including Wollongong, Blue Mountains and Central Coast) in the following indoor settings:

  • Retail outlets, supermarkets, and shopping centres
  • Waiting areas for public/shared transport and on public/shared transport
  • Indoor entertainment (including cinemas and theatres)
  • Places of worship
  • Hair and beauty premises
  • When visiting an aged care facility

As of 12 January 2021, face masks are mandatory at all NSW airports and on flights, including those taking off or landing in NSW.

Northern Territory

Face masks are recommended if:

  • You have symptoms and are getting tested
  • Cannot maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres


For impacted areas within Greater Brisbane, you must carry a mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to. Face masks must be worn in indoor spaces, except your home. Face masks are not required outdoors unless a physical distance of 1.5 metres cannot be maintained, for example, in walkways.

For those people outside the impacted areas, face masks must be worn in Queensland airports, on domestic flights, on international flights from COVID-19 hotspots or when transporting persons required to quarantine such as bus, coach or taxi drivers.

South Australia

From 23 December 2020 face masks are no longer mandatory. However, other restrictions are still in place.


Face masks are not required in Tasmania unless:

  • You are caring for a person who has or is suspected of having COVID-19
  • You have symptoms or are COVID-positive and need to leave your place of isolation for testing or medical support
  • You are visiting a COVID-hotspot and cannot maintain physical distancing


You must carry a mask with you at all times when leaving home unless you have a lawful reason not to. From 17 January 2021, face masks are no longer mandatory in all public settings in Victoria. However, face masks are still mandatory:

  • On public transport, rideshare or taxis
  • Inside shopping centres
  • Inside indoor markets
  • In large retail stores (over 2000 sqm)

Face masks are strongly recommended in situations where 1.5 metre physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Western Australia

Face masks are mandatory in Western Australia when:

  • In an airport
  • On a flight
  • Transporting persons required to quarantine such as bus, coach or taxi drivers.

Face masks are recommended as an extra precaution in areas where there is community transmission:

  • When physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • For people with existing medical conditions and older people

For further information, visit the Australian Department of Health Website.

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