For some people wearing a face mask is unsuitable, there are also some situations where a face mask does not need to be worn.
Face masks are a way we can protect ourselves and others. You should wear one whenever you can. At the different traffic light settings, there are some places where you must wear a face mask unless you are exempt or have a legitimate reason not to wear one.
When face masks do not need to be worn
There are some situations where a face mask does not need to be worn.
In general, you should wear a face mask whenever you can. COVID-19 is transmitted by particles, so masks are a way we can protect ourselves and each other.
If you are around people you do not know, it is a good idea to wear a mask.
Face masks do not need to be worn:
- by children under 12 — except at Red for those aged 8 years or over or in Year 4 or above when indoors at school and on public and school transport
- at an indoor gathering if there is exclusive use of the venue or defined space, for example weddings or funerals
- on a boat or ship that has no enclosed space for passengers, for example jet boat tours
- on charter or group tours
- on private flights
- by drivers, pilots, staff or crew of the service if they are in a space completely separated from passengers, for example pilot in a cockpit, train driver in a train cab, or a captain on a ferry.
You also do not need to wear face mask if:
- you are outdoors
- you are exercising
- it is unsafe, for example if wearing one means a driver cannot safely operate the vehicle
- there is an emergency
- you have a physical or mental health illness or condition or disability that makes wearing a face mask unsuitable
- you need to prove your identity
- you need to communicate with someone who is deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind or has a disability which makes it hard to have effective communication
- you need to take medicine
- you need to eat or drink, if eating or drinking is usually allowed
- it is not required by law.
If you cannot wear a face mask
We know face masks are unsuitable for some people due to mental or physical health issues, a disability, or a condition. You still have the right to access services.
If you cannot wear a face mask, you can request a Face Mask Exemption Pass from the Ministry of Health. You can show the card to transport operators, retailers and service providers. It can help make it easier to explain that a face mask is unsuitable for you.
You do not have to show a Face Mask Exemption Pass if you cannot wear a face mask — but it may help you feel more comfortable.
The Face Mask Exemption Pass has replaced the Communication Card that was previously being issued. If you have an existing Communication Card, it still remains valid. You are encouraged to apply for the new Mask Exemption Pass as it has your name on it and can be used as conclusive evidence of your exempt status.