stack of blue surgical masks. IDEAS does information so you can do life.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, wearing a face mask is now mandatory or strongly recommended in some situations and some places. In some situations, wearing a face mask will not be appropriate for people with some disabilities, physical or mental health conditions. 

Adaptations and alternatives should be considered whenever possible to increase the feasibility of wearing a cloth face covering or to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading if it is not possible to wear one. If you can wear a mask, you should. If you can't, don't panic. Even in places where wearing face masks is mandatory, there are exceptions or lawful reasons not to wear one. 

Skip to: Choose understanding | Exemptions | Clinical reasons | Autism 

Choose understanding not judgement

IDEAS is encouraging people to choose understanding, not judgement if they see people not wearing masks.

We're sharing this message across social media and through the community:

Please remember not everyone can wear a mask safely, including some people with a disability. The law says that this is okay.

Exemptions for wearing a mask

Skip to: Vic | WA | QLD | NSW


From 11.59 pm Friday 12th February, all of Victoria will again go into Stage 4 restrictions. These restrictions will last 5 days till 11:59 pm on Wednesday.

Masks will be mandatory in all settings outside your home. Remember that there are special conditions where exemptions from wearing masks apply.

Go to Live in Vic? Latest COVID info for more information.

Exemption Badges

You can choose to use a printable badge or a Smartphone badge that is available from the Victorian DHHS website.

Smartphone Badge

For anyone who is exempt and has a valid reason for not wearing a face mask.

Wearing a face mask outside the home is now mandatory for people living in the Perth metropolitan area, Peel and South-West regions. 

Wearing a face mask is also 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 aged 12 years and under 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.

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 remains essential measures even when you are wearing a mask.

Go to Perth Lockdown and WA Border restrictions update for more information or Face Masks FAQs


You are strongly encouraged to continue to carry a face mask with you at all times, to provide added protection if you are in a situation where you cannot maintain social distancing. When attending a big event, in a shopping centre or travelling on public transport, we strongly encourage you to wear a mask – especially when entering, exiting or moving through areas where lots of people are gathered.

Face masks remain mandatory at all times in the following situations:

  • at Queensland airports (indoor and outdoor areas)
  • during a domestic commercial flight
  • if you are arriving in Queensland from overseas or from a COVID-19 hotspot, you must wear a face mask while travelling from the airport until you reach your allocated room in your quarantine accommodation
  • if you are a driver of a bus, coach service, taxi or rideshare transporting a person required to quarantine.

Face masks alone will not protect you from COVID-19. Social distancing is the gold standard of COVID-19 prevention methods, as well as washing your hands regularly.

Live in QLD? Need to Know COVID-19 Disability Info


Wearing a face mask is mandatory in some indoor settings in Greater Sydney right now. It may not be suitable for some people with a 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.

The NSW Government answers some Common questions about face mask rules here.

Live in NSW? The latest about COVID-19

Disability and Wearing Face Masks - COVID-19

Clinical reasons not to wear masks

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth face coverings should not be worn by:

  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face-covering without assistance

The below information is directly taken from the Centres for Disease Prevention and Control Info sheet, click here for the full article.

  • People who are deaf or hard of hearing—or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired—may be unable to wear cloth face coverings if they rely on lipreading to communicate. In this situation, consider using a clear face covering. If a clear face covering isn’t available, consider whether you can use written communication, use closed captioning, or decrease background noise to make communication possible while wearing a cloth face covering that blocks your lips.
  • Some people, such as people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health conditions or other sensory sensitivities, may have challenges wearing a cloth face covering. They should consult with their healthcare provider for advice about wearing cloth face coverings.
  • Younger children (e.g., preschool or early primary-aged)may be unable to wear a cloth face-covering properly, particularly for an extended period of time. Wearing of cloth face coverings may be prioritised at times when it is difficult to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others (e.g., during carpool drop off or pick up, or when standing in line at school). Ensuring proper cloth face-covering size and fit and providing children with frequent reminders and education on the importance and proper wear of cloth face coverings may help address these issues.
  • People should not wear cloth face coverings while engaged in activities that may cause the cloth face covering to become wet, like when swimming at the beach or pool. A wet cloth face covering may make it difficult to breathe. For activities like swimming, it is particularly important to maintain physical distance from others when in the water.
  • People who are engaged in high-intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a cloth face covering if it causes difficulty breathing. If unable to wear a cloth face covering, consider conducting the activity in a location with greater ventilation and air exchange (for instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where it is possible to maintain physical distance from others.
  • People who work in a setting where cloth face coverings may increase the risk of heat-related illness or cause safety concerns due to introduction of a hazard (for instance, straps getting caught in machinery) may consult with occupational safety and health professional to determine the appropriate face covering for their setting. Outdoor workers may prioritise the use of cloth face coverings when in close contact with other people, like during group travel or shift meetings, and remove face coverings when social distancing is possible.

Cloth face coverings are a critical preventive measure and are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult. If cloth face coverings cannot be used, make sure to take other measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread, including social distancing, frequent hand washing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Above taken from COVID-19: Considerations for Wearing Cloth Face Coverings 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and masks

Harvard Medical Publishing has some tips around Helping people with autism spectrum disorder manage masks and COVID-19 tests. It outlines challenges and suggestions for what to do in each situation.

IDEAS has heard of parents helping children work with their sensory needs, by offering fabric masks in materials or colours/ designs that the children enjoy. 

Graphics you can use to help tell a story, produced by WHO is available for download here. 

IDEAS does information so you can do life.