The Victorian government has implemented the rule that all Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live. The rule came into effect from 11:59pm on Sunday 2 August 2020 due to increasing concerns about the number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria. The government has stated that wearing a face covering will provide Victorians with an additional physical barrier to help reduce community transmission.
Many people have been fined for breaching this rule. Amongst these people was a man from the Port Phillip area who breached Victoria’s mask mandate due to having a “bad pimple” on his chin. The man was fined $200 by the police.
What is a “face covering”?
According to the Victorian State Government (Health and Human Services), a face covering includes a face mask or a face shield. The covering should cover a person’s nose and mouth. The government has expanded on what is an acceptable face mask:
- A face covering can be made from any textile or paper, as long as it is designed to be worn over the nose and mouth
- It does not need to be a medical grade mask
- Homemade masks are allowed
- If a person does not have a face mask/shield, other forms of face covering can be used. These include a scarf or a bandana.
If a person chooses to wear a face shield, it must:
- Be made of film, plastic or other transparent material
- Be designed or made to be worn like a visor (this would cover a person’s forehead to below the chin area, wrapping around the sides of a face)
Exceptions for not wearing a face covering:
There are several lawful exceptions when a person does not need to wear a face covering. These circumstances include:
- Infants and children under the age of 12 years
- Professional sportspeople when training or competing
- If you are affected by a relevant medical condition. You also do not need a medical certificate to prove you have a relevant medical condition.
- If you are deaf or hard of hearing, and the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication
- If wearing a face covering will create a risk to your health and safety related to your work
- If your profession requires clear enunciation or visibility of your mouth (e.g. teaching)
- If you are working on your own property with members of your household, and no staff or contractors are on site
- If you are doing any exercise or physical activity where you are out of breath or puffing. This can include running or jogging, but does not include walking. However, you must carry a face covering and wear it once you are finished exercising.
- If you are directed to remove the face covering to confirm your identity (e.g. by police)
- If you are travelling in a vehicle by yourself or with other household members
- When you consume food, drink or medication (this includes eating at a restaurant)
- When undergoing dental treatment or other medical care to the extent that the procedure requires you to take off your face covering
- During an emergency – this definition will be subject to interpretation if police are questioning you
Unless a lawful exception applies to your circumstances, Victorians must wear a face covering. Anyone found to be breaching this rule will be fined $200.
Note that if you are a Victorian business owner, you will not be liable if an employee or customer refuses to wear a face covering without a lawful reason. The penalty is only applied to the individual who is not wearing a face covering. However, a business owner must take reasonable steps to ensure an employee working on their premises is wearing a face covering.
If you have been arrested or the police are looking to interview you regarding an investigation, Pannu Lawyers is able to advise you of your rights at every step of the criminal investigation & trial process. Pannu Lawyers extensively practice in Criminal Law and regularly appear at Courts throughout New South Wales such as Blacktown Local Court, Mt Druitt Local Court, Parramatta Local Court & District Court, Burwood Local Court, Downing Centre Local Court & District Court, and Penrith Local Court. If your matter is at Blacktown Court, we are conveniently located within a walking distance from the Blacktown Local Court. Call our office on 02 9920 1787 to discuss your matter in a confidential manner.
The above information is intended as general information and is not intended to be relied on as legal advice.