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Do I need to wear a face mask when going shopping?

WORDS GITIKA GARG

Your questions answered.

One of the things I missed most while stuck in lockdown was my weekly browse at my local shopping centre. Judging by the bustling crowds and long lines outside storefronts over the past few weeks, it’s safe to say I’ve not been the only one who’s been eagerly awaiting a trip to the mall.

And for many Australians, the reopening of retail (much like other activities) has been accompanied by our trusty companion of the last two years – the face mask.  


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But as restrictions continue to ease across Australia, so do the rules on wearing a mask when shopping. Here is everything you need to know about the latest updates and changes. 

Do I need to wear a face mask when shopping? 

For residents of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, face masks are still required in indoor retail settings. 

As for those living in the ACT, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, there is no mandatory requirement to wear a face mask when shopping in retail stores. 

While they’re not necessary for these states, it’s still strongly recommended you carry a face mask with you, and that you wear one in places where physical distancing can’t be maintained.

When are these restrictions likely to change? 

Hang in there Victorians and residents of New South Wales. It’s been confirmed that people in these states will no longer be required to wear face masks in retail stores from December 15. Masks will still be required in taxis and ride-shares, healthcare, aged care, primary schools, justice facilities and public transport.

As for South Australia, the date masks will no longer be required in retail stores has yet to be confirmed, but once the state hits its 90 per cent vaccination target masks will only be required in high-risk places like hospitals.

Why does it differ from hospitality? 

Restrictions between retail and hospitality differ slightly because hospitality venues allow for more social distancing. In NSW and Victoria, those working in hospitality are still required to wear a mask, but customers in these states are now able to enjoy their meal without the added task of wearing a mask upon arrival

South Australians must still continue to wear masks indoors while at restaurants when not eating and drinking. All other states do not require you to wear a mask when visiting a hospitality venue. 

Do I need to be vaccinated to go shopping? 

In Victoria and NSW you need to provide proof of vaccination when entering non-essential retail stores. But from December 1, NSW is set to allow unvaccinated people to shop non-essential retail.

There are no clear cut answers on when unvaccinated Victorians will be able to enter non-essential retail stores, but it’s been suggested by the Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews, that they could be barred entry “for the entirety of 2022”.

As for the rest of the country, many states are allowing unvaccinated people to enter non-essential retail stores, but the specific rules vary from state to state and are changing regularly, so it’s best you check your state’s official website for all the up to date details.

To find out more on the importance of wearing face masks, head here.  

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