Healthy living

Face masks

  • Wearing a face mask is mandatory in WA while at an airport, travelling on aircraft, or transporting a person subject to a quarantine direction. See more below.
  • Never share your face mask with others. Scarves and bandanas are not suitable to be used as face masks.
  • Face masks are not recommended for infants and children under 12 years of age.
When should I use a face mask?

Wearing a face mask is mandatory in Western Australia while:

  • at an airport
  • travelling on aircraft
  • transporting a person subject to a quarantine direction (e.g. in a personal vehicle, private car, hired car, ride-share vehicle or taxi)

Airports and air travel can present an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission, and wearing face masks is effective in helping to prevent this.

Where a person, subject to a quarantine direction, needs to engage in transport services, all people in the vehicle (including the driver) are required to wear a face mask. This includes private, hired, taxi and rideshare vehicles that may be used to travel from the airport to their suitable premises for self-quarantine, or from their place of self-quarantine to a COVID Clinic to present for their Day 11 COVID-19 test.

Children under the age of 12 years do not need to wear a face mask. 

People who have a physical or mental illness, condition or disability which makes wearing a face mask unsuitable are also exempt from the requirement. You may wish to ask your registered health practitioner or disability care provider to issue a letter confirming this. 

Penalties may apply for people who fail to comply with this requirement.

Other COVID safe protective measures, such as hand hygiene, staying home when unwell and physical distancing remain essential measures even when you are wearing a mask.

What are the different types of face mask?

How to put on and take off your face mask (PDF 1MB)

Single use surgical face masks – discard after use

Surgical masks are single use items and must be disposed after every use.

These are recommended for use if you:

  • are caring for someone with COVID-19,
  • have COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-9 or
  • are over 60 or
  • have underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease, cancer etc.

If you have, or are suspected to have, COVID-19, you must wear a surgical mask if you cannot avoid being in close contact with someone, e.g. if you are self-isolating and need to visit a GP or hospital.

NB: N95 and P2 respirators are only recommended for healthcare workers or specific industries in specific circumstances.

Reusable fabric masks – wash after every use

Reusable fabric masks – buying and making guide (PDF 2MB)

Fabric masks should not be worn by healthcare workers or by people over 60 or with underlying medical conditions.

Fabric masks are used for source control. That is, they act as a barrier between your mouth and nose and the surrounding environment to protect those around you.

Fabric masks must be 3 layers. Each layer requires a different type of fabric.

These should be washed after every use, or when wet or visibly dirty. Wash with laundry detergent on the hottest setting (preferably at least 60 degrees C). Avoid using disinfectants to clean the mask because they may produce fumes that are harmful to inhale.

If you are unable to machine wash, wash in hot water with a laundry detergent then rinse thoroughly..

Make sure your fabric mask is dry before re-using.

Once dry, store your clean fabric masks in a disposable, sealable plastic bag to protect from contamination.

Over time, your fabric masks will need to be replaced. Replace your fabric mask if:

  • it no longer fits snugly
  • it starts to slide or fall off
  • there are any holes
  • you find you need to keep adjusting the fit
  • the material has started to wear or fray.
How do I take off my mask safely?

If you need to remove your face mask, you should be a safe distance from others. Remember to perform hand hygiene after removing your mask.

If using a surgical mask, dispose of it in the bin immediately after use.

If removing a reusable fabric mask, place it in a sealed disposable plastic bag until it can be washed. Used fabric masks must be kept separate from clean fabric masks until they can be washed. Do not store used masks in the same bag as the clean ones.

If using your mask for prolonged periods, you may need more than one mask. Masks should be changed if they become wet or soiled.

Surgical masks are single use items that will need changing after 4 hours, if they become moist/soiled and in between breaks. Dispose of the mask in the bin immediately after use. You will need to perform regular hand hygiene when wearing a mask.

How do I get rid of my mask?

Surgical masks

  • To safely remove any type of face mask practise hand hygiene, remove the mask and then perform hand hygiene again.
  • Single use masks must be placed into a rubbish bin at the point of removal.
  • If a rubbish bin is not immediately available, the mask must be taken to the nearest rubbish bin in a safe manner to ensure the used mask cannot contaminate other items/belongings or people. This may need to be done in a bag such as a labelled resealable bag which can then be disposed of at the nearest rubbish bin.
  • Avoid placing used surgical masks in cars, pockets and directly into handbags/backpacks/luggage as used masks may pose a risk of contamination to other items/belongings and people.
  • Always practise hand hygiene after handling used masks and other items of rubbish.

Fabric masks

  • To safely remove any type of face mask practise hand hygiene, remove the mask and then perform hand hygiene again.
  • Fabric masks that are reusable, should be washed after every use, or when wet or visibly dirty.
  • After removing the fabric mask it should be stored in a safe manner until the wearer can wash it. Labelled resealable bags or lidded plastic containers that can also be cleaned after each use are an appropriate way to transport used fabric masks.
  • Avoid placing used fabric masks in cars, pockets and directly into handbags/backpacks/luggage as used masks may pose a risk of contamination to other items/belongings and people.
  • At the earliest opportunity wash with the fabric mask with laundry detergent on the hottest setting (preferably at least 60 degrees Celsius). Avoid using disinfectants to clean the mask because they may produce fumes that are harmful to inhale.
  • If you are unable to machine wash, wash in hot water with a laundry detergent then rinse thoroughly.
  • Make sure your fabric mask is dry before re-using.
  • Store clean dry masks in a labelled resealable bag to protect from contamination.
  • Always practise hand hygiene after handling used masks and other items of rubbish.
Last reviewed: 05-02-2021

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Information about a service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace professional advice. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified professional for answers to their questions.

Coronavirus information helplines: 13 COVID (13 268 43). Interstate callers: 1800 595 206. International callers: +61 8 9118 3100.