COVID-19: Legal cut-off age for children to wear masks to be raised to 6 years old

COVID-19: Legal cut-off age for children to wear masks to be raised to 6 years old

Preschool children masks
A child on the way to being dropped off at a My First Skool centre at Buangkok in end-January. (Photo: Matthew Mohan)

SINGAPORE: The legal cut-off age for children who need to wear masks will be adjusted to six years old, up from the current two years old, announced the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Sep 23). 

This comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said that young children below the age of six may not have the coordination necessary for the proper use of masks. 

“Therefore, consistent adult supervision is recommended to ensure appropriate and safe use of masks by these young children,” said MOH in the press release. 

Responding to CNA queries, MOH said that the legal cut-off age for children to wear masks in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations will be updated with effect from Sep 28. 

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In April, as part of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, a new regulation was added to the Government Gazette to make it mandatory for everyone to wear a mask when they leave their residence. 

All individuals aged two and above had to wear a mask over their nose and mouth outside of their homes. Anyone escorting children are responsible for ensuring the child wears a mask, if they are aged two or older. 

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MOH’s current guidelines allow for “greater flexibility” on mask use for young children - those 12 and below are allowed to use a face shield instead of a mask. While this is “already consistent” with WHO and UNICEF’s recommendations, it is “not fully reflected” in the current laws. 

The Health Ministry continues to “strongly encourage” young children to use a mask or face shield to guard against COVID-19, especially in a group setting, it said in the press release. 

“Children and other persons who may not have the coordination necessary for the proper use of masks or face shields, should continue to be supervised when doing so.” 

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Watch the full press conference: 

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Source: CNA/hw