Wearing a face mask is mandatory in some settings. Learn about when you need to wear a face mask, when you can remove it and who is exempt.

When you are in the Greater Sydney area, or if you have been in the Greater Sydney area within 14 days, you must wear a face mask where required by public health orders. The Greater Sydney area includes the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong, and Shellharbour Local Government Areas. 

View the Greater Sydney area map

Public transport

You must wear a face mask in the Greater Sydney area when 

  • using public transport, hire vehicles, taxis and rideshare services
  • waiting for public transport at a bus or light rail stop, train station or ferry wharf. 

Non-residential indoor areas

You must wear a fitted face mask when you are in an indoor area of a non-residential premises in the Greater Sydney area. View the Greater Sydney area map

Examples of the areas where a face mask must be worn are

  • retail or business premises that provide goods or services to members of the public who attend the premises, including
    • supermarkets
    • shopping centres (excluding an indoor recreation facility in a shopping centre)
    • bank branches and post offices
    • hairdressing, nail, beauty, tanning and waxing salons
    • spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours
    • betting agencies
  • any part of a licensed premises that is used for the purposes of gaming, and gaming lounges

  • places of public worship being used for public worship or religious services
  • residential aged care facilities
  • workplaces
  • gym classes or dance classes
  • COVID-19 Safe outdoor gatherings
  • controlled outdoor gatherings
  • entertainment facilities (such as theatres, cinemas, music and concert halls)
  • major recreation facilities (such as stadiums, showgrounds, theme parks, racecourses, and motor racing tracks)
  • indoor recreation facilities (unless it is strenuous exercise).

You must wear a face mask if you

  • work at a hospitality venue located in the Greater Sydney area and
  • deal directly with members of the public.

If you are a person at a hospitality venue or a kiosk (other than staff), you do not need to wear a face mask at the hospitality venue or kiosk. 

Premises that are used for the purpose of providing health services are not retail or business premises.

Wearing a face mask in situations where you cannot physically distance (for example indoors at a public place) is strongly recommended.


When you can remove your mask

A person may remove their mask if they are:

  • eating or drinking
  • communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • at work and the nature of the work makes the wearing of a fitted face covering a risk to the person's, or another persons' health and safety, or where clear enunciation or visibility of your mouth is essential
  • asked to remove their mask for identity purposes
  • in an emergency situation
  • when the removal of a face mask is necessary for the provision of a good or service e.g. a facial or a beard trim
  • doing strenuous exercise (except when you are in a gym class or a dance class)
  • at a correctional centre, place of custody, or hospital
  • in a school or early education and care facility
  • a resident at an aged care were facility
  • a guest in a hotel/motel room and in your room
  • on a construction site
  • in the process of getting married
  • working alone in an office (until another person enters)
  • in a vehicle alone or with another person from your household.

Eating and drinking

You can take your face mask off when you are eating or drinking. 

To avoid the risk of contamination, NSW Health recommends you put on a new, clean mask when you have finished eating or drinking. If this is not possible, remember to wash or sanitise your hands. 

You should always use hand sanitiser or wash your hands before and after changing your face mask.

Remember, stay 1.5 metres apart from people you don’t live with.

Children, toddlers under 2 years, and babies

Masks should not be worn by toddlers under 2 years of age and babies, as they are a choking and suffocation risk.

Children 12 years and under are exempt but are encouraged to wear masks where practicable.

Lawful reasons for not wearing a face mask

The public health order includes a number of lawful reasons for not wearing a mask.

You are not required to wear a mask if you have a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable. For example, if you have a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma, you are not required to wear a mask.  

People with disability

It may not be suitable for some people with disability to wear a face mask. 

If you have a condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you may wish to ask your registered health practitioner or disability care provider to issue a letter confirming this. However, this is not a requirement under the public health order.

Documentary evidence to support not wearing a mask

If you are stopped by a regulatory officer in a setting where masks are mandatory, they will ask you to confirm the lawful reason you are not wearing a face mask.

Officers will only issue penalty notices if you clearly refuse to wear a mask without a lawful reason.

If you have a condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you may wish to ask your registered health practitioner or disability care provider to issue a letter confirming this. However, this is not a requirement under the public health order.

In other circumstances, if you are eating or drinking, or there is an emergency, you will not be expected to continue wearing a mask.

Further information

Visit NSW Government website https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/face-mask-rules for the complete resource and up-to-date information and rules.