Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Mandatory face coverings on public transport – what you need to know

PC: Getty Images

From Monday it will be compulsory for everyone in New Zealand aged 12 and over to wear a face covering on public transport and planes under Alert Level 2 and above, with certain exemptions for health, disability and practicality reasons.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said any form of face covering will do, and if you don’t have a mask, you can use a scarf or bandana.

The order today sets out that at Level 2 and above:

  • Face coverings should be worn on public transport and aircraft. That includes trains, buses, and ferries.
  • They don’t need to be worn on:
    • By children under 12
    • On school buses
    • On charter or group tours
    • On interisland ferries
    • On private flights
    • By private contractors of air services such as top-dressers
    • These groups are already likely within each other’s bubbles as part of a registered group or have space to physically distance.
  • In addition, face coverings do not need to be worn by:
    • Passengers of small passenger vehicles, such as taxis and uber. But drivers will be required to wear masks.
    • People with a disability or physical or mental health condition that makes covering their face unsuitable do not have to wear face coverings also.
    • There will be other times when it is not required – such as in an emergency, if unsafe, if people need to prove their identity or to communicate with someone who is deaf, or if required by law.

Not wearing a face covering on public transport will become an offence, punishable by a $300 infringement notice or a fine of up to a $1000 imposed by the courts. Enforcement of the rules will be light touch – starting with engagement, encouragement and education.

“We encourage everyone to get three or four washable masks each and are also investigating the potential distribution of reusable masks to those most in need,” said Chris Hipkins.

The Government will release a further three million masks for national distribution over the coming days as a one-off boost to immediate supply. This will be distributed among iwi, social services groups and community foodbanks in centres and regions where there is public transport.

Below: Health service The Fono shows how to wear a mask

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