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.

A suitable face mask includes reusable cloth masks, and single-use face masks (commonly called surgical masks) that covers the nose and mouth.

Scarves, bandannas, snoods (or ‘gaiters’) and face shields on their own are not adequate substitutes for masks.

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

Mask use

Masks are required as follows:


Strongly recommended


COVID Management Plan events


If you can wear a mask, please wear a mask. However, there are circumstances where it might not be possible to wear a face mask:

  • Where a person may have a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, which makes wearing a face covering unsuitable, including persons with obstructed breathing, a serious skin condition of the face, an intellectual disability, a mental health condition or persons who have experienced trauma.
  • For a person communicating with those who are deaf or hard of hearing and visibility of the mouth is essential for communication.
  • For a person who wears hearing aids of a style that makes wearing masks difficult and where an alternative style of mask (with ties rather than ear loops) is not available.
  • For people whose work or education means that wearing a face mask creates a risk to health and safety.
  • Where the nature of the work or education means that clear enunciation (ie speech) or visibility of their mouth is essential. This includes teachers, lecturers, broadcasters or call centre staff.
  • Where a person is working by themselves in an enclosed indoor space such as an office unless and until another person enters that space.
  • When a person is consuming food, drink or medicine.
  • In circumstances where removal of the mask is lawfully required for identification purposes.
  • If the person is a child under 12 years of age.
  • A bridal party at a wedding do not need to wear masks during the ceremony (including photos).
  • When a person is undertaking an activity within the gym, they are not required to wear a mask. However, when entering the gym or when not undertaking an activity at the gym, a mask must be worn.
  • If you are required to wear other face coverings or protective equipment, such as a dust respirator mask, this counts as wearing a mask – you do not need to also wear a cloth or surgical mask.

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
  • a person undergoing dental treatment.

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.

Personal care

People in personal care services must wear a mask at all times. This includes people providing and receiving services.

Personal care services include:

  • hairdressers, barbershops and other premises at which hairdressing and barber services are provided; or
  • beauty salons, nail salons and tattoo parlours and other premises at which beauty therapy and tanning, waxing, piercing or body modification services are provided; or
  • wellness centres, day spas and massage parlours; or
  • saunas and bathhouses (including thermal or spa bathing);

A mask can be removed by a customer or client if required for the service (e.g. lip waxing), provided it is only removed for the time taken to receive the service.

Indoor public places

A person must not enter or remain in an enclosed public place unless they are wearing a face mask. Indoor public spaces include, but are not limited to:

  • Retail stores and supermarkets
  • Shopping centres
  • Places of worship
  • Cinemas and theatres
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Elevators

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.


Indoor workplaces

SA Health strongly recommends wearing masks most of the time while indoors in a workplace.
It is particularly important to wear masks in shared spaces such as meeting rooms, copy or printer rooms or team rooms.

Adult learning environments

SA Health strongly recommends wearing masks most of the time while in adult learning environments, including university and TAFE.



From Monday 25 October 2021, masks are no longer required in education settings across South Australia, however staff and students can choose to wear a mask if they would like to.

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.
  • Scarves, bandannas, snoods (or ‘gaiters’) and face shields on their own are not adequate substitutes for masks.

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.