New Sydney Covid rules – do you have to wear a mask while on a walk?

·3-min read

New laws being introduced on Monday will make it mandatory to wear face masks while outside in NSW unless doing strenuous exercise. 

While the rule was already in place for high-risk local government areas in Sydney, it has now been extended state-wide. Previously masks were only required when you can't socially distance.

The tighter restrictions were announced on Friday — along with a lockdown extension until September 30 — as Covid cases continue to remain high.

However, there has been confusion surrounding what constitutes 'strenuous' exercise — and at what point a mask has to be worn.

Two women walk past Sydney's Opera House wearing masks.
Masks are required to be worn at all times in NSW outside the home except when exercising. Source: AFP via Getty

What if I'm walking for exercise?

The new mask rule has sparked some confusion among people who are unsure at what point masks have to be worn, and if they have to be worn when walking with a friend.

"Strenuous exercise is classified as activity that makes you breathe heavily, which will be different for different people," a NSW Health spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

"For example, walking may be strenuous for someone who is elderly.

"For others, it may be running, jogging, cycling."

NSW Health strongly recommends wearing face masks if you are unable to physically distance yourself from people you do not live with, so if possible, wear one if walking with someone outside your household.

"Our concern is, that when people are walking past a group of people or accidentally bumping into people that [fleeting] contact can cause transmission," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Friday, warning everyone to carry a mask at all times.

"Even when you are exercising, you need to have the mask with you, in case you were doing some strenuous exercise, you come into contact with anybody else, the mask has to be put on."

Rules change in 12 LGAs of concern

A curfew of 9pm to 5am will be introduced for 12 LGAs of concern in NSW, meaning residents are unable to leave their homes unless it is for authorised work or emergencies.

"Police will be stopping anybody leaving their home from 9pm to 5am and this is based on police information about the type of activity carried out by a small number of people," Ms Berejiklian said on Friday.

Outdoor exercise will only be permitted for one hour a day in LGAs of concern. Childcare workers and disability support workers will have to be fully vaccinated by August 30.

Sydney LGAs of concern with curfew

  • Bayside

  • Blacktown

  • Burwood

  • Campbelltown

  • Canterbury-Bankstown

  • Cumberland

  • Fairfield

  • Georges River

  • Liverpool

  • Parramatta

  • Strathfield

  • Penrith

NSW's proposed 'freedom plan'

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed on Friday she will start to outline the state's path out of lockdown next week despite announcing Sydney will be locked down until September 30.

NSW Police Minister David Elliott commented on the government's "freedom plan" on Channel 7's Sunrise program on Friday morning, and confirmed that restrictions could ease for those fully vaccinated when the population hits 70 per cent vaccination rate.

He expects the government will move forward with the plan of allowing people who have received two doses of the vaccine to be allowed to visit bars, restaurants and gyms.

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