Face masks are now required or recommended in many places in South Australia to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We’ve looked at the current public health directions to provide advice about the current rules and what this means for equal opportunity laws.

What are the current rules for wearing a face mask in South Australia?

The rules for wearing a face mask in South Australia have changed. Masks are now required or recommended in an increasing number of places.

The current public health directions are designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to keep the community safe.

Is the requirement or recommendation to wear a mask disability discrimination?

Under the Equal Opportunity Act it is not against the law to require a person to wear a face mask.

There is an exception to the law that normally applies, when: “ensuring that an infectious disease is not spread, and is reasonable in all the circumstances”.

But there are also exceptions to the public health directions, for people with a disability, condition or illness.

So if you cannot wear a mask, you may not be required to. Find out more here.

What are the exceptions that apply?

You may not be able to wear a face mask if:

  • you have a disability, medical condition or illness, and
  • for medical reasons, wearing a face covering is not suitable.

If this is the case, you may not be required to wear a face mask under the public health orders. There are some other exceptions too – learn more about them.

Others in the community may not be aware of your disability, condition or illness - particularly those responsible for enforcing mask-wearing requirements in businesses.

To help, we recommend getting a letter from your doctor or allied health practitioner explaining your situation. This letter could say you are not able to wear a mask because of a medical condition.

You do not need to provide details.

I think I’ve been discriminated against

If you have a disability and believe you have been discriminated against because you are unable to wear a mask, you can lodge a complaint with our office.

If you do, we will ask you about your disability and how it prevents you from wearing a mask.

We may also ask you about the information you provided to the person that discriminated against you.

Information for businesses and service providers

Businesses and other service providers need to comply with public health directions for mask wearing.

Some people can’t wear a mask because of an illness, condition or disability and they may not need to. Make sure you and your staff know the exceptions that apply so you don’t directly or indirectly discriminate against someone unable to wear a face mask.

The reasons for not wearing a mask may not be obvious.

If you refuse service to a person with a disability who was unable to wear a face mask you may be unlawfully discriminating against them.

Find out more

SA Health provides up-to-date information on mask wearing requirements in South Australia, including a list of exceptions.