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Information about face masks

Face masks provide an extra layer of protection and are proven to be effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, particularly when physical distancing can’t be applied.

Children under the age of two years should not wear a mask. It is up to individuals to decide if children over two years of age wear a face mask.

Those people who have a relevant medical or health condition should not wear a mask if it is not safe or appropriate to do so.

For everyone in the lockdown area, masks must be worn if you leave your place of residence for one of these five reasons:

  1. Medical treatment, including COVID testing or vaccination
  2. For essential goods and services, like groceries and medications
  3. For work that is considered essential
  4. For one hour of outdoor exercise a day within 5 km from your home with one other person or people from your house
  5. To provide care and support to a family member or person who cannot support themselves.

Personal behaviour remains our best defence against COVID-19 which is why it is important for everyone to follow all health directions.

  • Maintain a physical distance of 1.5m at all times.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water and use hand sanitiser regularly.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Put your tissue in the bin straight away.
  • Do not travel or go to work if you are sick.
  • If you have symptoms, stay away from others and get tested for COVID-19.

Mandatory mask use

Chief Health Officer Directions make it mandatory for face masks to be worn at all major NT airports and while on board an aircraft. Masks must be worn when inside the airport and when on the airfield.

Children under the age of 12 and people with a specified medical condition are not required to wear a mask.

Mask wearing is mandatory at the following Northern Territory airports:

    • Darwin International Airport
    • Alice Springs Airport
    • Connellan Airport - Ayers Rock (Yulara)
    • Gove Airport
    • Groote Eylandt

A person is not required to wear a mask during an emergency or while doing any of the following:

  • Consuming food or beverage
  • Communicating with a person who is hearing impaired
  • Wearing an oxygen mask

It is the responsibility of individuals to make sure they have a mask to wear when at major NT airports and while on board an aircraft.

What type of face mask should I buy

Cloth mask (multiple use)

Cloth masks are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 to other people when they are made and worn correctly.

You can purchase a cloth mask from a variety of retailers, community organisations and other outlets. It is important that you buy a mask that will protect you and others. Three-layer masks are best. Two layers are the minimum.

You will need more than one reusable cloth as these type of masks are less effective when damp. Cloth masks should be washed after each use or at least daily. Reusing a cloth mask without washing it, can lead to self-contamination and infection of the person wearing it.

Surgical mask (single use)

You can buy single use surgical masks from outlets such as chemists, some supermarkets and other reputable retailers.

Surgical masks are available in various levels of protection. Surgical masks are single use only and cannot be washed or re-used. Make sure you dispose of your surgical mask immediately after wearing in a closed bin.

Don’t use masks with holes or a valve as you will breathe out your germs or the virus onto others. The value of wearing a mask is to protect other people.

Be aware of fake masks. Increased demand for surgical masks has led to some fake masks entering the Australian market. When buying a mask, make sure that it meets Australian Standards (AS/NZS 1716:2012) or the international equivalent:

This includes:

  • Having the manufacturers name, trademark or trade name on the mask
  • Certification by an independent body such as SAI Global, and have their licence number marked on the packaging
  • Certification by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), if from the United States of America.

How do I wear a face mask properly

Putting on a face mask

  • Before putting on the mask, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.
  • A mask should fit securely around your face, specifically covering the nose and the mouth areas.
  • Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Secure the mask to your face using the ties at the back of your head or ear loops. If you are using a mask with ear loops, you can use a plastic clip or tie to join the ends together at the back of your head to make sure it fits snugly on your face.
  • Make sure that your mask does not have holes or any unfiltered one-way valves. This can result in breathing out the virus if you have coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times.

Taking off a face mask

  • Remove the mask from behind, making sure you don’t touch the front of mask.
  • If it is a single-use mask, discard it immediately in a closed bin.
  • If it is a cloth mask, store it in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash it.
  • Wash your hands after you take your mask off, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.

How do I wash my cloth face mask

Washing machine

  • You can wash your mask with your regular laundry
  • Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the mask.

Washing by hand

  • Fill the laundry sink or a bucket with warm water
  • Pour in a bleach solution
  • Soak the mask in bleach for 5 minutes
  • Discard the bleach solution down the drain and rinse the mask thoroughly with cool or room temperature water
  • Make sure to completely dry the mask after washing.

Bleach solution

  • Check the label of the bleach to make sure it is intended for disinfection
  • Some bleach products, such as those designed for safe use on coloured clothing, may not be suitable for disinfection
  • Use bleach containing 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite. Do not use a bleach product if the percentage is not in this range or is not specified
  • Ensure the bleach product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.

Do children have to wear a face mask

Children under the age of two years should not wear a mask. It is up to individuals to decide if children over two years of age wear a face mask.

When should I wear a mask

It is mandatory for masks to be work at major NT airports and while on board an aircraft.

It is recommended that you take extra precautions and wear a mask in public if you:

  • have any symptoms and are seeking medical advice
  • are going to get tested.