Effective Thursday, July 23, 2020, in all communities in the Porcupine Health Unit area, it is mandatory to wear a face covering in public indoor spaces. The use of a face covering does not replace the need for other public health measures such as physical distancing, frequent hand hygiene, and staying home if unwell.
Wearing a face covering helps to trap respiratory droplets which can spread COVID-19 and protects people who are around you. Your face covering must be secure and have a snug fit around your nose, mouth and chin.
It protects those around you by trapping droplets which may contain the virus inside your mask. To protect yourself from COVID-19 everyone should: stay home as much as possible; avoid groups or crowded spaces; maintain a physical distance of 2 metres; wash your hands frequently; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with tissues or your sleeves; and wash your hands immediately after.
Reopening the economy means people are returning to work and taking more outings in the community. We were previously isolated at home, but now that there is more public interaction and so a higher risk for exposure to COVID-19. As people increase their contacts, the risk of a rapid rise in infections and outbreaks is ever-present.
Scientific evidence indicates that wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces is an effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The situation is constantly changing. Even if there are no “identified” cases of COVID-19, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t in our communities or won’t reappear. We also now know that COVID-19 can be spread by people without symptoms. A face covering is one way that you can help protect others.
Once a case is identified and exposure has occurred, it is too late, it is important we take all the steps that can help reduce the risk of infection.
*Wash your hands before putting the mask on, before touching it or adjusting it, before taking it off and after taking it off.
This video, in the Porcupine Health Unit Personal Protection series, shows how to put on and take off a face-covering.
There are many types of masks or face coverings available. There are cloth masks that can be washed and reused; face coverings such as a bandana, scarf, or cloth; disposable masks that can only be worn once, and medical masks.
A face covering is a way to cover your mouth and nose to prevent droplets (from breathing, talking, coughing or sneezing) from contaminating others or landing on surfaces. A variety of items can be used as a face covering, including non-medical cloth masks, bandanas or scarves.
A medical mask includes surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators (like N95 masks). These masks must be kept for healthcare workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.
Do not use plastic or other non-breathable materials as a face covering or face mask.
When you wear a plastic shield, you do not have a snug fit around your nose, chin, and mouth. A face shield may provide extra precaution for the wearer against droplets from another person; however, these droplets can still be inhaled around the shield. Respiratory droplets from the wearer can also escape around the sides of the face shield, which provides less protection to others. If you choose to wear a face shield, you should do it in combination with a cloth mask.
A face shield is not a substitute to wearing a mask or face covering. It does not filter respiratory droplets and does not have a snug fit around the nose, mouth and chin. However, the WHO, (World Health Organization) supports the use of face shields as a “better than nothing” solution to face masks. At a minimum, the face shield should cover the sides of the face and extend below the chin.
Children can be symptomatic (showing symptoms) or asymptomatic (without symptoms) carriers of COVID-19. Children over the age of 2 should wear a mask to protect those around them if it is difficult to maintain a distance of 2 metres.
Face coverings are not recommended for children under 2 years of age or wherever one cannot be worn safely. Once a mask is in place, children should not touch the mask, as doing so will increase their risk of contamination. If you believe your child can understand and follow the proper etiquette for wearing a face covering, encourage your child to wear one.
You can encourage your child by:
There are many alternatives to purchasing a mask, including making your own, or using a bandanna or scarf. The Porcupine Health Unit is currently working with community partners to share opportunities to obtain masks locally.
Follow this link for instructions on how to make a mask. You will find instructions for both a simple sewing or “no sew” version:
When a 2-metre distance cannot be maintained, wearing a mask will help reduce the spread of COVID-19. In extreme heat wearing a face covering can be uncomfortable. In an outdoor setting, a mask may not be necessary if you can keep 2 metres away from others.
Tips to beat the heat while wearing a mask:
The mandatory face covering policy applies to indoor areas only and includes, but is not limited to, the following types of places:
Additionally, the Ministry of Education has made masks mandatory within schools, day care centres, day camps and childcare agencies. Students in Grades 4-12 are required to wear a mask while indoors on school property, when physical distancing is not possible, and while riding on school buses. This includes during classes and in hallways. School personnel must also wear masks. Masks are encouraged, but not required for students JK to grade 3. Visit our webpage on COVID-19 and Schools for more information.
Currently, the mandatory mask requirement applies only to enclosed public spaces.
Certain services, where it is not possible to wear a face covering, such as at the dentist, will allow you to temporarily remove it while you are receiving those services. Other situations include:
If you don’t wear a mask or face covering in an enclosed public space (like a store), or if you are seen with your mask off for long period of times or you are not wearing your mask in a way that fully covers your chin, mouth and nose, you will be given a verbal reminder of the requirement to wear a mask.
Implementation of the policy will be enforced in ‘good faith’. It will be primarily used to encourage the social norm and as a means to educate people on face covering use in public spaces.
There is currently no enforcement or fine for those who are not wearing a face covering. Please be respectful as some individuals may be exempt from wearing a face covering (see next section).
No one is required to provide proof of exemption from wearing a face covering. DO NOT ask for proof.
A face covering is not required for children under the age of two, those who are developmentally under the age of two or who cannot understand how to wear a face covering properly, individuals who have trouble breathing, people who are hearing impaired, those who are unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to put on or remove a face covering without assistance, and businesses not open to the public where employees can maintain physical distancing.
There might be situation where temporary mask removal will be necessary. When someone is deaf or has difficulty hearing, employees may have to remove their mask. Follow safe handling procedure when removing your mask and keep a distance of 2 metres from others. Re-apply your mask when the situation is resolved.
Yes. Wearing a mask is not an alternative to all the public health measures that are currently in place; physical distancing, staying home if sick, washing your hands, cough and sneeze etiquette, not touching your face, and cleaning commonly touched surfaces. It remains important to follow the guides and signs in the store or building (like the arrows on the floor, the 2 metres stickers or lines on the floor) to maintain a 2-metre physical distance.
We recognize that wearing a cloth mask may not be possible in every situation. It can worsen a physical or mental health condition or introduce safety concerns:
* Ensure you wash your hands before and after removing your face covering.
Cloth masks can be reused throughout the day if not soiled or damaged. Wash your hands, remove the mask from your face and fold it in half. Fold it so the outer surface faces inwards so the contaminated surface is does not touch anything during storage. Place your mask in a clean, closed bag until you are ready to use it again on the same day. Disposable masks should be discarded and not reused or re-washed.
A mask can be worn all day if it does not become damp, damaged, or dirty. Do not place your mask in your pocket.
No. The prolonged use of face coverings can be uncomfortable. However, it does not lead to CO2 intoxication. -Source: WHO
No. The prolonged use of face coverings can be uncomfortable. However, it does not lead to oxygen deficiency. -Source: WHO
YES! If it can be cleaned, you should:
If your customer removes their mask for extended periods of time, give them a verbal reminder of the requirement to wear a mask under the policy.
The policy will be enforced in “good faith” and is used to educate people on face covering in addition to physical distancing of two metres.
Individuals are not required to provide proof of exemption.
No one should be turned away if unable to wear a mask (exemptions). As always, it remains up to individual business owners and operators if they wish to refuse entry to individuals who may not have an exemption and choose not to wear one.
However, we are hoping for respectful implementation and are trusting individuals will do what they can to protect themselves and others.
Let’s remember to be kind to one another.
Temporary removal of a mask, where necessary, is permitted for the members of the public.
No, the policy is in place to educate the public on the importance of reducing the spread of COVID-19.
If the employee works behind or within a physical barrier or in an area that is not designed for public access, a mask is not needed.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2020: Order issued under Ontario Regulations 263/20, Section 4(2); and 364/20, Section 2(2); or as current, of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), requiring all members of the public and employees who enter or remain in an enclosed public space of the business or organization to wear a mask or face covering that securely covers their mouth, nose and chin without gaping.