Masks (Face Coverings)

Wearing a quality mask can help you stay healthy, especially during the fall and winter when the number of respiratory illness infections tends to grow.

While wearing a mask in most indoor public spaces is a personal choice, it may be mandatory in some settings. Businesses, workplaces, or events can choose to require that masks be used in their spaces. For more information about masking in different settings, consult the Ministry of Health’s website.

What is a mask?

A mask is defined as a face covering that can filter respiratory droplets, and that securely covers the nose, mouth, and chin without gapping. A mask may be a non-medical mask or medical mask. A bandana, scarf or gaiter is not recommended. A mask with ear loops or ties is recommended to ensure a secure fit.

If you wear a mask

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends a 3-layer mask which includes a middle, filter layer. A 2-layer mask can still be used. If making or buying more masks, consider the 3-layer mask for improved protection.

Wearing a mask is only one of the many protective measures you can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. In addition to wearing a mask, you should:

  • clean your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer;
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; and
  • stay at home if you are sick.

It is also important to understand that masks have limitations and need to be used safely:

  • Your mask should cover your nose, mouth, and chin without any gapping.
    • If the mask has a nose wire, adjust it to fit snugly over the bridge of your nose.  
  • Your mask should NOT obstruct your vision.
  • Once your mask is on, you should avoid touching it again until it is removed.
  • If your mask becomes wet or dirty, it should be changed for a new mask. Do not reuse a disposable mask that is intended for a single use.

REMINDER: You need to perform proper hand hygiene every time before and after touching your mask.

You should consider the exterior of your mask as contaminated.  Wearing the mask incorrectly – such as around your neck, below your nose or chin or hanging off of one ear puts you at increased risk of self-contaminating yourself with particles of the virus that could be present on the exterior of your mask.  In addition, when the mask isn’t worn correctly, it also no longer does its job of protecting others.

When you no longer need to be wearing your mask (e.g. when you exit a store, when you are driving back home), you should safely remove it.  Reusable masks should be stored properly and disposable masks should be thrown out in a lined garbage container.

Please consult the resources below for information including how to properly fit, wear, remove and clean your face mask.

How to Use a Disposable Mask or Face Covering

How to Safely Use Reusable Cloth Masks and Face Coverings

Additional resources:

Ontario Ministry of Health: Face coverings and masks

Using Masks in the Workplace

How to Safely Put On and Remove a Face Covering or Mask (illustrated instructions)

COVID-19 mask use: Advice for community settings