Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario

Masks (Face Coverings)

Provincial regulations (O. Reg. 364/20: REOPENING ONTARIO ACT) which went into effect on October 3, 2020 includes language mandating the use of masks (face coverings) in all indoor public spaces across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces.The mandatory use of masks applies to all persons in the indoor space, including staff, patrons and visitors. All indoor spaces are now included, such as (but not limited to): common spaces of multi-unit dwellings (e.g. apartments, condominiums), places of worship, commercial establishments, transit vehicles (private and public), polling stations and offices. The mandatory use of masks also applies to outdoor organized public events when people cannot maintain physical distancing. There are some situations when you may be exempt from wearing a mask or face covering.

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, medical mask or other face covering (e.g. a bandana, scarf or cloth face covering).

Evidence shows that wearing a mask can help protect other people if the mask-wearer is infected with COVID-19, by trapping respiratory droplets in the mask. Since some people may be infected and not know it, whenever people are going out and might come into close contact with other people, they should wear a mask. When you wear a mask, you are helping to protect other people. When other people wear a mask, they are helping to protect you as well.

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 one tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, it should not replace other protective measures. In addition to wearing a mask, you should:

  • avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation and crowded places;
  • continue to practise physical distancing with others outside your household;
  • 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

Effects of Wearing a Face Mask During Hot and Humid Temperatures

Using Masks in the Workplace

Mask Required Sign for businesses and organizations to post at their entrances (8.5x11 sign)

Masking and Respect Campaign - Poster for Indoor Public Places (11 x 17 poster)

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

Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge

Non-medical masks and face coverings: Sew and no-sew instructions

Synopsis of Literature to Date on Masks and Reducing the Spread of COVID-19

Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario