Face Masks are now mandatory in Greater Sydney.
Effective 3 January 2021
In Greater Sydney (including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains) face masks are mandatory in the following indoor settings:
- shopping (retail, supermarkets and shopping centres)
- on public/shared transport and waiting areas for public/shared transport
- indoor entertainment (including cinemas and theatres)
- places of worship
- hair and beauty premises
- visiting an aged care facility.
Compliance will start from Monday 4 January 2021 with $200 on the spot fines for individuals for non-compliance.
All Children under 12 are exempt but are encouraged to wear masks where practicable.
For some wearing a face mask is just not practical. You may be eligible for an exemption if you have a valid medical condition. Mental health issue, skin conditions, autism, trauma, breathing issues or any disability restricting you from wearing a mask.
You can obtain an exemption letter from a medical professional. Either your GP, allied health practitioner or a specialist. This will assist if approached by authorities and prevent a $200 on the spot fine. This letter should be carried at all times. You should also do your best to observe social distancing rules and complying to the 1.5 m rule. And, if you can wear a mask you should.
This letter will not however prevent your loved ones from being judged or even harassed for non compliance. That side eye or disapproving look from others, it may also still be problematic entering private venues, as they will still have the right to refuse entry. Ultimately the exemption will only assist in preventing a $200 fine.
So what can you do?
You an get a hidden disability lanyard. These sunflower lanyards alert the general public that you have a hidden disability. The lanyard can be worn by you or your child.
You can access the lanyards from:
The Hidden Disability online store https://hiddendisabilitiesshop.com.au/
You may also be able to access them from airports or ebay.
You may also be able to obtain an Autism Awareness card. The card may be presented if questioned. These cards hold information about emergency contact and alerts others that the card holder is autistic.
You can access Autism Alert cards from:
Autism Spectrum Australia https://www.autismspectrum.org.au/alert-card
Absolutely Autism AU /https://www.instagram.com/p/CFRhx12jL7W/
Aspien Princess https://princessaspien.com/product/communication-cards/
The NSW department of health have this helpful social story. https://accesseasyenglish.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Masks-NSW-28-July-2020.pdf
Kids on the Spectrum also have several social stories that may assist. You can download a copy here: https://www.livingonthespectrum.com/online-resources
Ultimately this will be a challenging time for most, we can only hope that the wider community are aware that wearing a mask is just not possible for some.