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HealthInfo Canterbury

Face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19

Kanohi kē e whakawhāiti i te hoarahanga o te mate korona

Wearing a face mask can reduce the risk of infected people spreading COVID-19.

A face mask helps stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes. This includes someone who has COVID-19 but feels well or has no obvious symptoms.

You should use a mask along with other measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette, not touching your face and physical distancing.

See When, why and how to wear a face mask for advice about which type of mask to wear and how to care for your mask.

This page on the COVID-19 government website gives information about when you should wear a face mask at different alert levels and in different regions of New Zealand.

Face mask exemptions

In certain situations, you can be exempt from wearing a face mask. This page gives information about the exemptions at different alert levels.

Some people who have a disability or health condition may not be able to wear a face covering safely or comfortably. To help with this, you can get an exemption card. You can show your exemption card when needed. For example, to a bus driver.

You don't need to have an exemption card, but you may feel more comfortable showing something official to confirm you can't wear a face covering.

If you think you need an exemption card, contact the Disabled Persons Assembly NZ. You can get a printable version or a card that you can show on your phone. You can contact the Disabled Persons Assembly NZ on (04) 801-9100 or at

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Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Last reviewed February 2022.

Page reference: 784607

Review key: HICOV-710714