Canberrans have been strongly encouraged to use face masks in Woolworths stores, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
From Monday, customers in the ACT, NSW and Queensland will be encouraged to use masks in Woolworths Supermarkets, Big W, BWS, Dan Murphys, Woolworths Metro Food Stores and ALH Hotels.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said the company wanted to "lead the way" in reducing community transmission.
ACT Health said as there was no evidence of community transmission in Canberra, most people were still not required to use face coverings.
What type of mask should I use?
There are generally two types of masks you can use, single-use surgical masks and reusable fabric masks.
The World Health Organisation advised fabric masks could be used by the general public if they were in an area where a lot of people were infected or they could not be physically distant.
Fabric masks can be bought or handmade but should consist of three layers.
The outer layer is a water resistant fabric, the middle layer acts as a filter and the inner layer should be water absorbent.
ACT Health said anyone in self-isolation should use a disposable surgical mask if they were leaving home to receive medical treatment.
ACT Health also advises people with COVID-19 symptoms to wear a surgical mask if they are in the same room as others in their home.
Masks with valves, such as N95 masks, should not be used for coronavirus.
What’s the story with masks with valves? Well, they shouldn’t be used for COVID protection. It allows the wearer to breathe out more easily and stops moisture build-up, but the problem is that it allows you to breathe out virus if you’re infected.— Chief Health Officer, Victoria (@VictorianCHO) July 25, 2020
Where can I buy a mask?
Several small businesses across the Canberra region are now selling reusable fabric masks.
Handmade fabric masks can be purchased from local businesses including:
Surgical masks can be purchased from online stores including FAZ Australia, and are stocked in most chemists including Capital Chemists, Chemist Warehouse, Develin's Chemists and Priceline Pharmacy.
Surgical masks can also be purchased from supermarkets, including Coles and Woolworths, and Bunnings.
However, some supermarkets are currently out of stock and it may be best to call ahead before making the trip.
How do I make my own mask?
As the demand for face masks rises across the worst-hit states, patterns and instructional videos to do-it-yourself have popped up aplenty.
Spotlight released a free downloadable template with instructions on how to make your own three-layered face covering.
You can find a step-by-step video explaining how to make your own mask here.
How do I use it correctly?
It is vital if you choose to wear a mask that you do so correctly.
Deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth said people should wash their hands before putting a mask on and taking it off.
It should fit snugly and completely cover your nose, mouth and chin, and should not be left to hang around your neck.
"If your mask is wet it won't be effective so you need to change it if it's a disposable mask, or wash it if it is a cloth reusable mask," Dr Coatsworth said.
"And please make sure you don't touch the front off your mask either whilst wearing it, or taking it on or off."
What's the latest advice on masks in the ACT?
ACT Health said Canberrans generally did not need to wear a mask if they were healthy.
"This is especially true given there is no evidence of community transmission in the ACT," the COVID-19 ACT website states.
"Masks help contain infectious droplets from sick people to keep those around them safe."
Canberrans can use a mask if they have COVID-19 symptoms including coughing and sneezing.
ACT Health says a mask should be used by anyone who has, or is suspected to have, coronavirus.
Mandatory mask use will be extended to the entirety of Victoria from Sunday, after a record 732 cases were reported on Thursday.
Meanwhile, people in NSW have been asked to consider wearing a face mask if they live or work in a hot spot area and where physical distancing is not possible.