Melbourne: Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Wearing A Face Mask In 3 Minutes

face mask

For the first time since this pandemic started, Aussies living in the metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are being asked to wear a mask if they must go out in public.

Right now, people living in those areas are back under Stage 3 lockdowns, and can only leave the house for four reasons (supplies, healthcare, exercise and work / school).

The rest of the world has been wearing masks for months, as per advice from the World Health Organisation.

(Of course, it’s managed to become a political issue in various parts of the world, lead by Donald Trump, who refuses to wear one. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro also refused to wear a face mask because he thought they were “too gay”, and then tested positive for coronavirus. Don’t be like these dingbats. Be like Elle Fanning instead.)

However, Australia has only just started asking people to cover their faces. It comes as Melbourne battles a second wave; on Saturday, the state recorded 216 new COVID-19 cases and sadly one new death, just one day after recording a national record of 288 new cases in one day.

How to wear your face mask correctly:

  • Wash your hands before putting it on. Otherwise, you could be smearing germs around the inside of your mask (YUK) and then the whole thing is useless.
  • Put it over your nose and mouth completely, and secure it under your chin.
  • Fit it snuggly around your face.
  • Make sure you can breathe easily.
  • Also make sure there are no holes or valves, which would make it a bit useless.
  • If your mask gets soiled or damp, take it off, either chuck it or wash it, and put on a new one.

Here’s a lovely guide from our mates at WHO:

face mask dos and don'ts

How to take your face mask off properly:

  • Only handle the mask by the ear loops or ties (whichever your mask has).
  • Fold outside corners together, basically closing in the part that’s been against your face.
  • Dispose of it immediately if it’s a disposable mask, or place it straight in the washing machine if its a cloth one.
  • Wash your hands ASAP, and don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth before you do so.

How to wash your cloth face mask properly:

  • USE SOAP. This should be obvious but y’know, just in case.
  • If you’re using a washing machine: use normal detergent and put it on the warmest temperature appropriate for the rest of the load (yes, you can wash it alongside everything else).
  • If you’re washing it by hand: the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US recommends using bleach to disinfect the mask. Soak it in a bleach solution (1/3 cup of bleach with about four litres of warm water) for five minutes, and rinse thoroughly.

When should you wear a mask?

Melburnians should be wearing a mask every time they leave the house at this point. However, while it is “recommended” for everyone and “strongly recommended” for people in hotspot areas or those coming into contact with vulnerable people, it is not enforceable. You will not be fined for not wearing a mask.

You should still be keeping 1.5-metres apart from people, practising good hygiene and obviously staying home if you’re sick, but a mask will slow the spread of coronavirus. In fact, a new estimate by Goldman Sachs reckons the United States would save the country about US $1 trillion if every single person just wore a mask.

Just watch Bill Nye demonstrate how effective a mask can be from preventing air particles moving around.

“The reason we want you to wear a mask is to protect you, sure, but the main reason we want you to wear a mask is to protect ME, from YOU, and to prevent the particles in YOUR respiratory system from getting into MY respiratory system.”

He’s very convincing:

Should you wear a surgical mask or a cloth mask?

Surgical masks are single use, so they need to be disposed each time you wear one. Respirators (such as P2 or N95) are not recommended for the community, and are instead for healthcare.

For everyone else, cloth masks are effective, and bonus points, can be washed and reused. If you don’t have a cloth mask on hand, any kind of face covering is better than nothing (although they don’t offer the same protection).

“You can make a simple mask at home and it does limit the risk of transmission of the virus, even wearing a scarf and covering your face is of some benefit,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday.

The Department of Health recommends a cloth masks be made of three layers of a mix of breathable fabrics to ensure adequate protection.

Where am I supposed to get a cloth mask?

Cloth masks you can make at home (here’s a free downloadable sewing pattern), or purchase from chemists, hardware stores and other retail shops.

The Victorian government is also sourcing two million reusable face masks and a million single-use masks, to be distributed to vulnerable people first.

If you have any more questions, the Victorian Department of Health should have you covered.