Update: We’ve updated this article with the latest deals on reusable and disposable face masks, as well as Neck Gaiter options to help keep you safe.
In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, as of 11:59pm on Wednesday, July 22, Melbournians will be required to wear face masks or coverings when in public in the city's metropolitan areas or the Mitchell Shire.
This decision by the national cabinet was made to combat the rising case numbers in Victoria, which has recorded another 246 coronavirus cases overnight on July 20, bringing the state's total to 2,913 active cases and 39 recorded deaths.
Failure to adhere to the new precautionary rules will result in a AU$200 on-the-spot fine.
In responding to a question about what kinds of coverings were appropriate, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews stated on Sunday in a press conference that “[it] need not be a hospital-grade mask, it need not be one of the handmade masks like I was wearing when I came in today. It can be a scarf, it can be a homemade mask.”
However, whilst opting for a bandana or scarf in lieu of a surgical mask will avoid you being penalised, it’s worth noting that using such methods are not recommended by medical professionals.
On Monday night's episode of The Project, Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth advised that “bandanas and other face coverings of that sort are a last resort”, while also adding “it’s something you wear when you’re on your way to the chemist to buy yourself a face mask”.
As face masks and coverings are now required to be worn in public areas, authorities have reiterated that Melbourne residents should only leave their houses for appropriate reasons and practice social distancing when doing so.
Authorities have also stated that masks are likely to become a recurring feature of our everyday lives as we learn to live with COVID-19.
Different mask types and what to buy
There are an array of different face masks available on the market – surgical, reusable, washable and even homemade.
The Victorian government has recommended cloth masks be utilised as your first form of defence against inhaling or spreading germ particles. These masks should ideally be made of three layers of a mix of breathable fabrics to ensure adequate protection – you can buy these at your local chemist, online or even make them at home.
Another alternative is surgical masks – these are generally made with a non-woven meltblown polypropylene layer and come in various levels of protection. Whilst surgical masks are a popular choice, a study published in April in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a cloth mask offers more protection than a surgical mask for people nearby.
You might also remember P2 or N95 masks, the ultimate defence against the dangerous smoke particles that filled the air in Australia’s most recent bushfires. Although these masks offer the highest level of protection, they're not being advocated for community use, as they’re being reserved for front line health professionals working in hospitals and testing centres. Cloth masks offer suitable protection for members of the general public as they make any essential trips outdoors.
How to fit your face mask properly
Once you’ve purchased your mask(s), you need to ensure correct fitting for optimum results. A mask should be fitted securely around the face, specifically covering your nose and mouth area and be securely fastened to fit restfully.
It's also recommended that you apply hand sanitiser before and after fitting your face mask and avoid touching your face to evade contamination.
Where to buy face masks in Australia
These face masks are made from a double-layer knit cotton fabric and feature comfortable ear loops. If you’re a first time customer of Everlane, you can save 10% off your first purchase – that’s a total of only AU$32.40 for five face masks.View Deal
If you consider yourself a bit of a fashionista, these two-ply 100% cotton face masks are available in a wide variety of colours and patterns that you can coordinate with your outfit. They’re also reversible so you get two designs for one – what a bargain!View Deal
These two-layered cotton face masks from Floatpac come in three different sizes (adult/toddler/child) and are available in up to seven different colours. 100% Australian made and with a filter pocket included, you can’t go wrong with these face masks. View Deal
The words on the front of this stylish mask read: “If you’re reading this you’re too close” – a great way to ensure you’re complying with social distancing regulations, and reminding others to stay away.
These masks are constructed from 100% cotton jersey and with every purchase, RE/DONE will donate five masks to frontline workers.View Deal
This lightweight, soft cotton-blend mask comes in two sizes (adult and child) with a bendable wire nose piece and adjustable ear straps to ensure a gap-free fit over your mouth and nose. Although this mask is non-medical grade, it does come with a hidden pocket to insert a PM2.5 five-layer carbon filter (sold separately) for the ultimate defence. The PM2.5 filters are available in packs of 10 (AU$14.99) and 50 (AU$49.99).View Deal
These adorable handmade face masks from Etsy are 100% soft cotton and eco-friendly. Made with two layers of protection with elastic bands for a secure fit around your ears, these masks are a suitable option to defend yourself (and others) from harmful germs as you make your way around town.View Deal
This Australian made face mask offers three layers of Merino cloth fabric – an alternative to cotton. Merino has had the specialised fabric tested by ANFF-Q at the University of Queensland which proved the masks to be effective in filtering out the majority of particles. In addition, these masks are constructed with adjustable rubber straps that tie to the back of your head and cotton covered rubber on the top and sides for a firm fit to your face – overall, a perfect option to protect you (and your family) against breathing in any dangerous germs.View Deal
Reusable Cloth Masks – available in singular or packs of 4 | starting at AU$25 at Madame Sustainable
Madam Sustainable, a supplier of hand sanitiser products in Melbourne, has recently collaborated with Mask Mee, a company that produces extremely fashionable face masks. These masks are double layer, constructed out of 80% polyester and 20% cotton and are suitable for exercise. Check out the impressive range of colours and patterns for a unique look.View Deal
Reusable Cotton Face Mask | AU$59.05 at The Iconic
This face mask from The Iconic is a little on the pricey site, but they’re constructed from 100% cotton and include two PM2.5 filters for extra protection. Made in Australia, you can grab one of these masks for AU$59.95, or four payments of AU$14.99 through Afterpay.View Deal
This Australian retailer offers reusable masks that are 100% cotton and are adjustable so one-size-fits-all. They come in a variety of different colours, have replaceable filters and are environmentally friendlier than disposable masks. View Deal
Online retail giant ASOS has also brought out a wide range of stylish cloth face masks for both men and women. The retailer has also committed to donating AU$2 to Oxfam’s Coronavirus Emergency Response Appeal on certain purchases. You could also save up to 20% off when using the code TAXRETURN at checkout. View Deal
Dochem is a professional manufacturer of high quality dental and medical disposable supplies so you know these face masks come from a reputable source. With a proven BFE (Bacterial Filtration Efficiency) of 99.3% and CE certification, you’ll have top-level protection while also protecting yourself against other airborne germs.View Deal
Made with comfortable and breathable fabric, these elastic polyester fiber neck gaiters are suitable for both ladies and men. Coming in three basic colors in a pack of three with carbon filters included, this is a great deal from Amazon for anyone looking to protect themselves while they’re out and about.View Deal
This neck gaiter comes with two filters to protect your mouth and face from smoke, pollution and germs. Constructed out of ice silk material, the material on this mask is ultra-stretchy for the perfect fit. Suitable for men and women, this neck gaiter can also be used for fishing, cycling, hiking, and other outdoor activities where you need to protect yourself from the elements. View Deal
2X Bandana Head Scarf with 15x Filter Pads | AU$13.99 through eBay
Another great bundle on a neck gaiter, these no-brand bandana head scarves with filter pads are available through eBay for the low price of AU$13.99. Made from 90% polyester and 10% spandex, these scarves will fit securely and comfortably on your face.View Deal
Made from 100% polyester, these multifunctional masks come in a pack of two with an additional 12 five-layered filters. Not only will this face bandana suffice as a barrier against breathing and spreading unwanted germs, it also can be used when exploring the great outdoors to protect you from the elements. View Deal
Scarf Bandanas Neck Gaiter with Filters | AU$34.53 through Amazon
For only AU$34.53, you can grab two neck gaiters with 10 safety carbon filters through Amazon! These stylish masks are made out of 100% polyester and can be worn a number of different ways – it can transform to a neckerchief, headband, wristband, face shield/scarf, bandana and more! View Deal
These neck gaiter face masks come with an amazing five layers of protection – this is thanks to the filter pouch that contains a PM2.5 filter that will protect you from breathing-in airborne germ particles. Available in adult and children sizes, these thrifty neck gaiters are suitable for the whole family. View Deal
You can secure yourself a five-pack of KN95 face masks from The CPAC Clinic. These masks are constructed of four-layers and have a filtration rate of above 99% that will effectively protect you against gases, dust, pollen, smog, germs and bacteria.View Deal
You can grab a 50 pack of face masks from Amazon for a jaw-dropping AU$8.75. Although basic, these simplistic masks will do the job with a hygienic 3-layered fabric. View Deal
If you’re really concerned about protecting yourself from the virus because you or a family member are the most vulnerable, these N95 masks will help put your mind at ease. Available through Chemist Warehouse, you can grab the N95 disposable face masks in a pack-of-three for only AU$13.99.View Deal
These masks from Wellcare have KN95 filtration that protect you from dust, particles, pollution, and particles in the air around you. Each mask has elastic ear loops and adjustable nose pieces for a secure and comfortable fit.View Deal
Another great deal on a pack of face masks – you can grab a pack of 10 from Wish for only AU$11! Whilst the website states that these masks are ideal to protect yourself from dust, germs and allergies, there is no material or layering specified, so we would assume these are just your regular, single-layered mask. Not the best choice, but if you’re on a tight budget and are in desperate need of face protection, these are a good alternative.View Deal
This 300-pack of disposable face masks from BecexTech should last you a decent amount of time. With three layers of protection, you can grab this giant stash for 29% off the RRP, saving you a massive AU$100 on this bulk purchase.View Deal
If you’ve got a large household or just want a stockpile for yourself, this 50 pack of disposable face masks through Catch will do the trick! These masks have three layers of protection and a contoured design to securely fit your face.View Deal
Do you have a big family and need a magnitude of face masks to hand around? Well this 150 pack of disposable medical face masks will surely come in handy. Made with three-layers, non-woven fiber and soft, breathable fabric, these throwaway face marks will provide an extra layer of protection against transferable germs.View Deal
These are your standard, disposable face masks with 3-layers of fabric and a filtration efficiency of 95% – perfect to store in your car or bag to have on-hand. If you’re in a hurry to stock-up on masks, Kogan is offering its ‘fast delivery’ on this product and should get to you within 1-2 business days.View Deal