Effective Saturday, October 3, 2020, the government of Ontario announced a provincial order mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions. 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.
*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.
Medical masks are one type of personal protective equipment (PPE) used with other types (e.g. face shield, gown, etc.) to protect the person wearing it from COVID-19 infection. Medical masks also protect others from exposure to COVID-19. Medical masks should only be worn once and then thrown away.
Non-medical masks (cloth/reusable or disposable masks) are not certified as medical grade and are worn to protect others around the person wearing the mask. Non-medical masks (3-layer or 2-layer) are not PPE and should not be used in situations where PPE is needed (e.g., healthcare).
Non-medical masks should be made of at least 2 layers of closely woven fabric (e.g. cotton or linen), preferably have layers with different materials, and be tightly fitted to the face to create a good barrier to contain the respiratory droplets of the person wearing the mask.
A third layer/filter may provide some protection to the wearer of the mask by filtering the air being breathed in, however, extra layers may make it more difficult to breathe.
Material like plastic, dryer sheets, cleaning or disinfecting wipes or other materials containing chemical products may cause difficulty breathing, as well as respiratory or skin irritation.
The Public Health Agency of Canada and World Health Organization recommend using a three-layer non-medical mask.
In theory, a three-layer mask which includes a filter may offer more protection for the mask wearer compared to a two-layer masks.
When looking to get a new mask, a homemade or bought three-layer mask with a disposable or reusable filter may provide better filtration of droplets and aerosols compared to a two-layer mask.
All non-medical masks (3-layer or 2-layer) should be used in all public indoor spaces and whenever unable to stay physically distant from people outside the immediate household. To be effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, all non-medical masks must be worn correctly each time:
It is most important that people continue to always wear non-medical masks and wear them correctly when unable to stay physically distance from those outside the immediate household and when in indoor spaces. Two-layer masks can continue to be used, there is no need to throw away two-layer masks that are still in good condition.
Homemade or bought three-layer non-medical masks are not PPE no matter what the materials used are or the type of filter. Even when using a three-layer mask, people should still follow recommendations for physical distancing, hand washing, avoidance of crowded, closed space and close contacts outside the immediate household.
Those needing medical mask/surgical mask as PPE for work, should not use a non-medical mask.
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:
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 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.
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.
Reusable cloth masks should be washed after each use.
It is recommended to wash masks in a washing machine, using the warmest water temperature setting with regular laundry detergent, and dry masks completely in a dryer.
If a washing machine and dryer are not available, masks can be washed in a sink using hot, soapy water, and air drying completely. The sink should be cleaned and disinfected before and after washing the mask to avoid cross-contamination.
Reusable non-medical masks with a non-woven filter layer should be washed in the same way. Reusable masks with a disposable filter layer should have the filter removed before washing. Disposable filters should be changed daily or as instructed by the manufacturer.
Non-medical masks should not be shared even after washing. Masks should be labeled with a person’s name so that it will only be reused by the same person after washing and drying. If cloth masks cannot be assigned to one person to reuse, then single-use disposable masks are recommended.
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
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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.