Using face masks in our community 

At Orange and Red traffic light settings, you legally must wear a face covering if you are a customer or an employee involving customer contact at a business or service. The Ministry of Health also strongly encourages New Zealanders to wear a mask or face covering whenever they leave their home at Orange and Red settings. 

Face masks or face coverings are also mandatory on all public transport at Orange and Red settings, and on passenger flights throughout New Zealand at all traffic light settings.

Find out more about mask requirements and recommendations at each traffic light setting here

Face mask exemptions

For people with very mild or well-controlled asthma, wearing a face mask should not be an issue.

For those who have trouble breathing, severe or poorly controlled asthma with frequent flare-ups, or for those with COPD who are coughing and experiencing significant breathlessness, then it is possible that wearing a face mask could cause discomfort or make it harder to breathe. You can find out if you are eligible for a face mask exemption here.

For people who are exempt from wearing a face mask for legitimate reasons, the Ministry of Health has updated the rules to provide better legal protection.

A personalised COVID-19 Face Mask Exemption Pass is now available.  These can be applied for online, by phone or text and at participating pharmacies, GPs and vaccination sites.  More information is available here.

Types of masks and face coverings

There are different face masks and coverings available:

Everyone must wear a mask that is attached to the face by loops around the ears or head.  You can no longer use scarves, bandanas or T.shirts as face coverings.

Face masks for the general public don’t need to be medical grade. However, for those people most at risk of severe health impacts from COVID-19, higher quality masks are recommended if leaving your home. For more about types of face masks go here.

People with respiratory conditions can consider:

  • Only wearing a mask for short periods of time, for example if you have to travel to see a health professional or access an essential service.
  • Avoiding travel on public transport, or any situation where you cannot maintain physical distancing and you need to wear a mask or face covering.
  • Using a face mask or face covering that is made of moisture-wicking and breathable fabric (eg. 100% cotton) may make the mask more comfortable to wear.

For people who are high risk, staying at home is still the best way to protect yourself.

For more information on the use of face masks or face coverings, visit the New Zealand COVID-19 website here 

Last updated Thursday 2 June 2022