A mandatory mask requirement was introduced to the ACT from Monday with people required to cover their faces at most public venues.
Masks will be required for anyone entering supermarkets, cafes and on public transport following an announcement from Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Sunday, which saw residents rush to restock.
In what was a first for the ACT since the pandemic outbreak in 2020, the often contentious public safety measure created confusion for some.
As Nature Intended Cafe owner Beata Wilder urged customers to her Fyshwick cafe to stay calm and do the right thing as they worked to understand the new requirements.
Ms Wilder said she had a number of staff who were exempt from wearing masks due to health concerns.
"Go and sign in and please don't be silly about it," she said. "We have to care for each other and be aware, just look but don't touch.
"And please be kind about it."
Where are masks required?
You must wear a fitted face covering at all times when on public transport or at a public transport waiting area, including taxis, rideshare services, bus and light rail services and airports. New travel restrictions are also in place.
Masks are also required at indoor retail premises including shopping centres, gaming venues and entertainment complexes.
People visiting places of worship or visiting or working within residential aged care facilities are required to wear mask. Although, aged care residents are exempt.
Employees of hospitality venues in the ACT where their role requires them to deal directly with members of the public should wear a mask.
Parents and carers are required to wear masks when dropping off and picking up children from childcare/after school care.
Are there any exceptions to that rule?
Individuals who are working at those indoor venues who do not interact directly with members of the public are not required to wear masks.
Chefs who stay inside the kitchen are not required to wear a mask. People dealing with inventory at the back of venues are also exempt.
Face mask requirements do not apply to people under the age of 12 and special exemptions have been made for people with various health concerns.
A person with a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability that makes wearing a fitted face covering unsuitable including for example a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma, is not required to wear a mask.
What about gyms and sports matches?
When visiting a gym, ACT Health has asked that masks be kept on when entering the facility, waiting for classes and in other common areas.
Attendees are permitted to remove their masks during a workout, provided it is refitted once it is over.
Participants and referees are required to wear masks before and after sports games at indoor venues, as well as in common areas.
Participants and referees are not required to wear masks while competing. Spectators and coaches are required to wear masks at all times.
What about eating out?
Masks are strongly recommended while ordering food at a counter, but are only required to be worn inside food courts.
There are a number of reasons to remove a mask in public which include, communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, at work and the nature of your work makes the wearing of a fitted face covering a risk to health and safety and in ad emergency.
Will I be fined for not wearing a mask?
The new direction was introduced from midnight, however, there will be a grace period of 48 hours in which no fines will be issued.
"But the past experience is that Canberrans have been overwhelmingly supportive of these measures so I don't think we're going to have a massive task on compliance," Mr Barr said.
"Generally it [non-compliance] happens when people are not aware of it coming into force so when you tell them to put a mask on, it's fine, so I think that generally will be the case."
Do I need a doctor's certificate to get an exemption for medical reasons?
ACT Health says: "A medical certificate is not a requirement under the Public Health Directions. However, businesses may implement their own requirements to manage this as part of their COVID-safe plans."
Do I have to wear a mask if I'm vaccinated?
Yes. ACT Health says being vaccinated minimises the likelihood of suffering serious effect, but it does not stop you contracting or spreading the virus.
"It is the responsibility of the whole community to protect and support each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wearing a face mask in the required settings is not only mandatory, but adds an additional line of defence as we work to keep COVID-19 out of the ACT," ACT Health says.
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