Face masks

Face masks are an additional physical barrier to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Children under 12 years of age are not required to wear a mask.

Masks or face coverings should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Please be respectful to others as reasons for not wearing a mask are not always obvious.

Mandatory mask use

From 9.18 pm on Tuesday 20 July 2021, masks are required in public places
This includes:

  • high risk settings
  • health care services
  • passenger transport services
  • public places.

The following places are excluded:

  • primary or secondary schools (including staff).
  • office buildings, unless the person's work involves face-to-face interaction with members of the public.

For more information on mandatory mask use, visit Emergency Management (Activities—General) (COVID-19) Direction 2021.

Health care services

All people in health care settings must wear a mask at all times.

Healthcare services include:

  • private and public hospitals
  • general practice
  • medical specialist services and practices
  • mental health services and practices including drug and alcohol services
  • allied health services, including those provided by a counsellor, speech pathologist,
  • sonographer, social worker, rehabilitation counsellor, radiation therapist, radiographer, psychologist,
  • prosthetist / orthotist, podiatrist, physiotherapist, music therapist, osteopath, orthoptist, optometrist,
  • occupational therapist, genetic counsellor, exercise physiologist, dietitian, counsellor, chiropractor,
  • audiologist, art/creative art therapist, or bowen therapist
  • complementary and alternative therapy services and practices including Chinese medicine practitioners
  • community health services including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services
  • dental services
  • reproductive services and sexual health services including termination of pregnancy
  • radiology services including screening services
  • disability and rehabilitation services.

This requirement applies to:

  • care providers
  • patients
  • clients
  • administrative and other staff
  • employees
  • visitors
  • students
  • contractors and
  • any other person present on site.

This requirement does not apply to:

  • a person who is an in-patient at a health care service.

For more information on mandatory mask use in health care services, visit Emergency Management (Activities—General) (COVID-19) Direction 2021.

FAQs - Mandatory mask use in health care settings (PDF 168KB) - these Frequently Asked Questions address changes to the latest COVID-19 Direction relating to mandatory mask use in healthcare settings.

Passenger transport services

All people on passenger transport services must wear a mask.

Passenger transport services include:

  • public transport
  • taxis
  • rideshare
  • other hire or charter vehicle arrangements.

For more information on mandatory mask use for passenger transport services, visit Emergency Management (Activities—General) (COVID-19) Direction 2021.

High risk settings

People must not enter or remain in a high risk setting unless they are wearing a mask.

High risk settings include:

  • residential aged care facilities
  • disability care facilities
  • prison or correctional facilities
  • Aboriginal community controlled health services

For more information on mandatory mask use in high risk settings, visit Emergency Management (Activities—General) (COVID-19) Direction 2021.

Airports and airplanes

Face masks (covering mouth and nose) are mandatory at all times while on an airplane or at any airport during your journey.

People present at an airport in South Australia must also wear a face mask.

Details around the mandatory mask use in airport and airplanes is available in the Emergency Management (Cross Border Travel – General) (COVID-19) Direction.

People in quarantine

People directed to quarantine (because they are a contact, or have come from a restricted zone) are required to wear a face mask whenever they come into contact with the public.

More information about requirements for interstate arrivals is available at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVIDcontacttracing.

Exceptions to mandatory mask requirement

There are some exceptions to these requirements, including:

  • if they have a relevant medical condition, including problems with their breathing, a serious condition of the face, a disability or a mental health condition (evidence of a relevant medical condition must be produced on request)
  • in circumstances where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication, such as to enable communication by or with any patron who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • in circumstances where removal of the mask is lawfully required for identification purposes
  • when the person is eating or drinking
  • when a person is undertaking outdoor exercise (other than walking)
  • if the person is a child under 12 years of age
  • if the person is carrying out functions as an authorised worker and it is not possible to properly carry out those functions with a mask on.

Wearing a face mask

  • Consider having more than one mask on hand so that you can easily replace a dirty mask with a clean one.
  • Cloth masks should be made of three layers of a mix of breathable fabrics, to ensure adequate protection.
  • Cloth masks are inexpensive and easy to make.
  • You can buy single-use surgical and cloth masks from a number of retail outlets.
  • A single-use surgical mask should be changed at least every four hours, or if it is compromised (for example, damp or damaged). Consider timing meal or bathroom breaks with mask changes.
  • Make sure that your mask does not have holes or a valve. This can result in breathing out the virus if you have COVID-19.
  • Make sure your mask is not wet, otherwise it will not function correctly.

How to fit your mask correctly

  • If you wear a mask, you need to wear it properly to make sure its effective.
  • A mask should fit securely around your face, covering both your nose and mouth areas at all times.
  • Make sure the mask fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face.
  • It should be snug and secured with ties at the back of your head, or by ear loops.

How to put on your mask safely

  • Before putting the mask on, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser that is made up of over 60 per cent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth at all times.

During use

  • Do not touch the front of your mask while wearing it.
  • If you do touch the mask, wash or sanitise your hands immediately.
  • Do not allow the mask to hang around your neck, this includes when eating and drinking.
  • Do not allow the mask to sit under your nose.

After use

  • Use the ties or ear loops to remove the mask.
  • Do not touch the front of your mask while removing it.
  • Store cloth face masks in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.
  • Wash your cloth mask whenever it gets dirty or at least daily. If your mask is wet or dirty from sweat, saliva, make-up, or other liquids or substances, keep it in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash it.
  • If you are taking off your mask to eat or drink outside of your home, you can place it somewhere safe to keep it clean, such as your pocket, purse, or paper bag.
  • Single-use masks should not be re-used, and should be thrown away after each use.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser that is made up of over 60 per cent alcohol.
  • Do not dispose of masks into a recycling bin. Dispose in a bag or lined bin.

Further information and resources

How to wear a mask: Australia's Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer


Read transcript.