General information regarding masks in the community

New information and community recommendations and requirements are currently evolving relating to the use of masks in the community.

At the time of writing for regions at Alert Level 2:  From 11.59 pm on Sunday 30 August 2020  you must a wear a mask on public transport such as buses, trains, ferries, and in taxis, Ubers and on all flights.

The NZ Government also highly recommend people over 12 years wear mask when out in public, where physical distancing is not possible.

People with a disability or physical or mental condition that makes covering their face unsuitable will not have to wear a mask. There’ll be other times when it’s not required—for example, in an emergency or where it’s unsafe; if people need to prove their identity; or if they are communicating with someone who is deaf; or required by law.

How masks keep you safe

A face mask can help stop infectious droplets spreading when people speak, laugh, cough or sneeze. They will help prevent droplets being expelled from an infected person, and decrease the chance of inhaling infectious droplets from others. They do not replace other recommended measures, but to be used with these other measures

Keeping yourself and others safe include:

  • wearing a mask in public spaces
  • hand hygiene
  • physical distancing
  • coughing and sneezing into your elbow
  • regular cleaning of high touch surfaces
  • staying home if you are sick and seek medical advice via your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

Types of masks, and ensuring the correct fit

Cloth masks

These can be bought or home made

WHO recommends they should have three layers

  • The layer close to your face should easily absorb droplets from your exhaled breath e.g. cotton such as t shirts or other clothing.
  • The middle layer should act as a filter and ideally be a spun bound non-woven material e.g. polypropylene material such as interfacing or reusable “green” shopping bags. These can be disposable or sewn into the mask.
  • The outer layer should repel droplets and moisture and could be a polyester or polyester cotton blend such as sports clothing or reusable shopping bags

Correctly fitting a cloth mask
A cloth mask should fit securely around the face, specifically covering the nose and the mouth areas.

The mask should fit snugly on your face and be secured by ties at the back of your head or ear loops.

If you are using a mask with ear loops, you can use a plastic clip or tie to join the ends together at the back of your head to make sure it fits snugly on your face.

A cloth mask should be washed each day after use. However, if during the day your mask is visibly dirty or wet, do not continue wearing your mask; the mask needs to be washed.

When not using your mask should be stored in a sealed plastic bag.

Surgical mask

  • A surgical mask has one coloured side and one white side.
  • Ear loops are attached to the white side. Position this side over your mouth with the coloured side facing outwards.
  • If present, make sure the metallic strip is at the top of the mask and positioned against the bridge of your nose.
  • If the mask has:
    • Ear loops: Hold the mask by both ear loops and place one loop over each ear.
    • Ties: Hold the mask by the upper strings. Tie the upper strings in a secure bow near the crown of your head. Tie the bottom strings securely in a bow near the nape of your neck.
    • Dual elastic bands: Pull the bottom band over your head and position it against the nape of your neck. Pull the top band over your head and position it against the crown of your head
  • Mould the bendable metallic upper strip to the shape of your nose by pinching and pressing down on it with your fingers.
  • Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
  • Be sure the mask fits snugly.
  • Don’t touch the mask once in position.
  • If the mask gets soiled or damp, replace it with a new one.

The NZ Ministry of Health has also said face coverings such as a bandana or a scarf can also be used if you do not have a mask.

  • Tips for people who are blind or have low vision.
  • Tactile indicators can help you identify the top of your mask to ensure you’re wearing it correctly. If attaching a tactile indicator to your mask, be careful not to puncture or tear the mask.
  • If making a cloth mask, consider using contrasting colours or suitable textured fabrics to help you identify your mask, as well as being able to identify parts of your mask, such as ear loops.
  • Where possible, always put your mask on by yourself. If this is not possible, ensure anybody who is helping you is known to you, is wearing their own mask and has thoroughly washed or sanitised their hands before touching you or your mask.
  • When not in use, keep your masks organised and in a location that is easy to access.
  • If you are using a cloth mask, take note if it begins to fray, slip from your face or no longer fit snugly across on your face. If you need to constantly adjust it, consider replacing it.

NZ Government has an Audio created by BLVNZ in August 2020

Blindness Websites – links for mask usage

You tube video by certified O&M instructor
How to Put on a Mask by Feel if you are Blind or Low Vision (disposable mask)

Tips for social distancing

How to wear a face covering safely

How to put on a face covering

Step 1: check your face covering
Make sure it is:

  • clean
  • dry
  • not damaged.

Step 2: clean your hands
Before you put on your face covering, clean and dry your hands. Use either:

  • soap and water, or
  • hand sanitiser that is at least 60% alcohol.

Step 3: put on your face covering
Place the face covering over your nose and mouth, then secure it with ties or ear loops. The face covering should:

  • fully cover your nose, mouth and chin
  • fit comfortably, but securely, against the side of your face
  • allow you to breathe easily.

Step 3: put on your face covering
Place the face covering over your nose and mouth, then secure it with ties or ear loops. The face covering should:

  • fully cover your nose, mouth and chin
  • fit comfortably, but securely, against the side of your face
  • allow you to breathe easily.

Step 4: clean your hands again
Use either:

  • soap and water, or
  • hand sanitiser that is at least 60% alcohol.

While wearing a face covering

  1. Avoid touching the front of your face covering. If you touch your face or the front of your face covering you should thoroughly wash and dry your hands.
  2. Avoid touching your face. If you touch your face or the front of your face covering you should thoroughly wash and dry your hands.
  3. Avoid moving your face covering. Do not pull your face covering down below your chin.

How to remove a face covering

 Step 1: clean your hands
Clean and dry your hands. Use either:

  • soap and water, or
  • hand sanitiser that is at least 60% alcohol.

Step 2: remove your face covering
Take your face covering off from behind and pull it away from your face.

  • Use the loops or untie it.
  • Do not touch the front of the face covering, and be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

Step 3: clean or dispose of your face covering

Clean your face covering

  • Clean cloth face coverings by washing them in a washing machine with detergent at 60 degrees Celsius.
  • Dry the face covering completely before you use it again. Do not use a damp face covering.

Dispose of single-use face coverings

  • Put it in a rubbish bin, or in a bag and throw it out.
  • Do not re-use or try to disinfect single-use face coverings.

Step 4: clean your hands again
Use either:

  • soap and water, or
  • hand sanitiser that is at least 60% alcohol.

Summary video

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made a video that summarises how to wear a face covering safely.

Information on Masks from NZ Govt Covid Website