Masks (Face Coverings)

Starting June 11, 2022, wearing a mask in most indoor public spaces is a personal choice. Masks remain required in some situations:

  • long-term care homes
  • retirement homes
  • in public spaces for 10 days after symptom onset, if presumed or confirmed as having a COVID-19 infection
  • in public spaces for 10 days following an exposure

For a total of 10 days after the date of specimen collection or symptom onset (whichever is earlier/applicable), individuals should:

  • Continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings (including schools and childcare, unless under 2 years old) and avoid non-essential activities where mask removal is necessary (e.g., dining out, playing a wind instrument, high contact sports where masks cannot be safely worn).
  • Not visit anyone who is immunocompromised or at higher risk of illness (e.g., seniors).
  • Avoid non-essential visits to highest risk settings such as hospitals and long-term care homes.

While not mandatory, masking is recommended in the following settings:

  • congregate care and living settings that provide care and services to medically and socially vulnerable individuals
  • shelters

Masking will also continue to be required at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s offices, and the clinics it holds in the community.

The regular exemptions continue to apply.

Some businesses, workplaces or events can choose to require that masks be used in their spaces.

Some people may choose to continue to wear a mask. The risk of transmission is higher in crowded indoor places and when in close contact with people who are not vaccinated or who are sick. Consider masking or distancing in these situations. Respect the risk tolerance and masking decisions of others.

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 are recommended to ensure a secure fit.

If you choose to 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 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:

  • 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