Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Politics

What are the rules around Greater Brisbane’s coronavirus mask mandate? Your questions answered

What are the rules around Greater Brisbane's coronavirus mask mandate? Your questions answered
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For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, mask wearing has been made compulsory for millions of residents in the Greater Brisbane region.

The mandate has been imposed to stop a potentially “catastrophic” outbreak arising from a hotel quarantine cleaner being in the community for five days while infectious with the highly contagious mutant UK variant.

University of Queensland virologist Kirsty Short said masks were an effective preventative measure, particularly given the rates of asymptomatic transmission.

So what is the correct way to wear a mask? And do I really need to wear one when driving?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What are the rules?

Anyone in Greater Brisbane during the lockdown period must wear a mask.(Supplied: Queensland Health)

If you live in any of the five local government areas that encompass Greater Brisbane, it’s mandatory for you to wear a mask when you leave your home during lockdown.

If you’re driving into Greater Brisbane from elsewhere during the lockdown, you must have a mask ready to wear.

You can take your mask off while eating and drinking and while at your home.

You also don’t need to wear a mask if you are outside but within the boundaries of your home, for example to garden or mow the lawn.

You must wear a mask while:

  • Driving your car
  • Doing exercise
  • In workplaces
  • At weddings or funerals
  • Shopping at supermarkets and shopping centres
  • On public transport or shared transport
A woman walks a dog in a face mask near a pool.
People are required to wear a mask when exercising.(AAP :Darren England)

Do I really need to wear a mask in the car?

Yes — even if you are alone while driving.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the mask rule also applied to people in cars because health officials wanted to make mask use “as simple as possible for everybody”.

“When you leave your household, put it on and keep it on until you get back home … including in the car,” she said.

Dr Short agreed.

“I think because of the short timeframe that this has all happened in, we want clear, concise instructions for everyone to follow,” she said.

But use common sense here — make sure you can safely drive your car while wearing a mask, particularly if your mask is causing your glasses to fog up.

A man wearing a face mask walks on a residential street holding a shopping bag.
Residents must wear a mask the second they leave their home.(ABC News: Margaret Burin)

How long do I need to wear it for?

Anyone in the Greater Brisbane region is required to wear a mask when they leave their home throughout the lockdown period from 6:00pm Friday until 6:00pm Monday January 11.

But this could be extended depending on what happens with case numbers.

How do I wear it?

To wear your face mask correctly you should:

  • Wash your hands with soap or hand sanitiser before putting on your mask
  • Tie the mask around your head or put the loops over your ears
  • Make sure the mask completely covers both your nose and mouth and there are no gaps between your face and the mask
  • If you’re wearing a surgical mask, press the top of the mask to shape your nose
  • Make sure your mask doesn’t have holes or valves

Queensland Health said a bandana or scarf could be used but only as a last resort.

A person wearing a mask at Brisbane Airport.
Surgical masks cannot be reused.(AAP)

Who is exempt?

Children aged 12 years and under do not need to wear a mask.

Dr Short said the exemption for children was there partly for practical reasons, but also because they posed a lower risk.

“Anyone who has a young child in particular I’m sure can empathise with the fact that keeping a mask on a young child would be very difficult, but on top of that it’s based on the science,” Dr Short said.

“This is based on the fact that we now know that children are less susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) than adults … so that’s why there’s a little bit of leeway on that.”

Certain workers are also exempt from wearing a mask if it’s unsafe for them to wear one at work.

Anyone in an emergency situation or living with a disability that might be made worse by wearing a mask is also exempt.

Two women in face masks cross deserted road.
Greater Brisbane is in lockdown until 6:00pm Monday.(AAP: Darren England)

Can I really be fined for not wearing one?

Yes.

Fines of $200 apply to those caught not wearing a mask for no legitimate reason.

In the first night of Greater Brisbane’s lockdown, police handed out more than 300 masks.

Three men were issued with $1,334 fines in separate matters for failing to comply with the Chief Health Officer’s directions after they each refused to wear a mask and left their residence for non-essential reasons.

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Queensland police perform compliance checks during the lockdown.

Can I reuse my mask?

Surgical masks cannot be reused.

Queensland Health recommends putting your used surgical mask in a sealable bag and then placing it in a closed bin.

Cloth masks can be reused but Queensland Health advises washing them after every use.

“Reusing a cloth mask without washing it is risky because it can become contaminated or may not be as effective in protecting you,” Queensland Health said.

“For each new situation, put on a clean mask. Carry your clean masks in a plastic or paper bag to keep them clean.”



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