Face coverings

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In a designated area, a police officer or PSO can direct you to remove a face covering if they reasonably believe you are wearing the face covering to:

  • conceal your identity, or
  • to protect yourself from the effects of crowd-controlling substances (e.g. capsicum spray).

If the police/PSOs reasonably believe you are covering your face for these reasons, they can order you to remove the face covering.

If you refuse to remove the face covering, they can order you to leave the designated area (section 10KA(1) Control of Weapons Act).

It is an offence to fail to comply with this order (section 10L(2) Control of Weapons Act, penalty 5 units).


What is a ‘face covering’?

The Control of Weapons Act does not define what a “face covering” is.

It likely means, any thing that covers your face and

  • conceals your identity, or
  • protects you from the effects of crowd controlling substances.

A face covering could include a handkerchief tied around your face or protective goggles to shield you from capsicum spray.

You are allowed to wear face coverings for other reasons, such as your religion or for health protection. 

Because of COVID 19, face coverings (like surgical masks) have become much more common, and sometimes mandatory. They are likely to continue to be a popular form of public health protection.

Because of this, it may be difficult for police/ PSOs to prove that your face covering is not for health protection purposes.


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