Lawful excuses or exceptions for not wearing a face mask
A face mask is not required to be worn in some circumstances including for:
- Infants and children under the age of 12 years.
- Persons who 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.
- Persons communicating with those who are deaf or hard of hearing and visibility of the mouth is essential for communication.
- Persons for whom the nature of their work or education means that wearing a face mask creates a risk to health and safety.
- Persons for whom the nature of their work or education means that clear enunciation or visibility of their mouth is essential. This includes teaching, lecturing or live broadcasting.
- The person is working by themselves in an enclosed indoor space such as an office unless and until another person enters that space.
- When asked to remove the face mask to ascertain identity. For instance, where asked by police, security, bank or post office staff to remove a face mask to ascertain identity.
- Persons being married while in the process of being married.
- Professional sportspeople when training or competing.
- Persons who are engaged in any strenuous physical exercise such as running, jogging, swimming or cycling.
- The person is undergoing dental or medical care or treatment to the extent that such care or treatment requires no face mask be worn.
- The person is consuming food, drink or medicine.
- The person who is a student while onsite at a primary school or outside school hours care.
- Persons receiving or providing a service from a facility which is permitted to operate under the Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria), to the extent that it is not reasonably practicable to receive or provide that service while wearing a face mask (for example, beard trimmings)
- If required or authorised by law.
- The person is travelling in a vehicle by themselves or with members of their household.
- The person is a prisoner in a prison, subject to any policies of that prison.
- The person is detained in a remand centre, youth residential centre or youth justice centre, subject to any policies of that centre.
- During emergencies.
- Where not doing so is not safe in all the circumstances.
People with lawful excuses for not wearing a face mask should still keep at least 1.5 metres apart from others, practice regular hand hygiene by washing or sanitising hands frequently, continue to comply with the Directions currently in force, and get tested if unwell (even with mild symptoms). about staying safe.
I have a medical condition that prevents me from wearing a face mask, do I need a medical certificate stating I don’t need to wear a face mask?
You do not need a medical certificate stating that you have a lawful reason for not wearing a face mask. If you have a lawful reason for not wearing a face mask, you do not need to apply for an exemption or permit.
If you are stopped by police in a setting where face masks are mandatory, they will ask you to confirm the lawful reason you are not wearing a face mask.
Do people with a disability have to wear a face mask?
Yes, people with a disability must wear a face mask in settings where it is mandatory, unless the person has a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, which makes wearing a face mask unsuitable (for instance, due to medical, physical, communication or other individual risk factors).
I have a lawful exception for not wearing a face mask – can I wear a face shield or other face covering?
You can choose to wear a face shield on its own if you have a lawful reason for not wearing a face mask. Other types of coverings, including specially designed face coverings, can be worn by people who have a lawful exception to provide a level of protection against COVID-19 transmission
What about people who have experienced trauma that makes it difficult for them to wear a face mask?
Some people who have past experiences of trauma are unable to wear a face mask due to psychological impacts. This is a lawful reason not to wear a face mask when you leave home. You do not need to carry or produce evidence proving that you are eligible for this exception.
Can I take my face mask off if someone I am communicating with can’t hear me?
You can remove your face mask if you are communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
You should maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres and if you need to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your elbow.
Can businesses refuse service to someone if they are not wearing a face mask?
Businesses should not refuse service to patrons who may have a lawful reason for not wearing a face mask at venues that require mandatory face masks. For more information on face masks and human rights, visit the of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.