Face coverings (COVID-19)

What does a mask or face covering do?

A mask or face covering acts as a barrier. It reduces your risk of spreading and getting COVID-19. A mask or face covering can protect others from potential COVID-19 droplets you may spread and prevents you from breathing in infectious respiratory droplets from others.

Wearing a mask or face covering, along with other public health measures such as vaccination, hand washing, masking, physical distancing and staying home when ill, can stop the spread of COVID-19.

When to wear a mask or face covering

Wearing a mask is an important way to protect yourself and others. Individuals should continue to wear a well-fitted mask if they feel it is right for them, are at high risk for severe illness, recovering from COVID-19, have recently had symptoms of the virus or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

As an additional layer of protection for the most vulnerable, wearing a well-fitted mask will still be required in long-term care and retirement homes. Wearing a mask is also recommended in acute care and congregate living settings, such as shelters and group homes.

People at higher risk for severe illness (older adults, those with certain medical conditions, pregnant or having recently given birth) are encouraged to wear a mask for greater protection, particularly those who have not received all recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

How to use a mask or face covering

Masks or face coverings need to be worn correctly. A well fitted mask or face covering must be snug against the face and cover the nose, mouth, and chin.

This visual shows a person properly wearing a homemade cloth mask. Two elastics are attached to both ends of the mask that can be looped over the ears to keep it in place. Make sure your mask covers your nose and mouth completely.

This visual shows the side profile a person properly wearing a homemade cloth mask. An elastic is attached at the end of the mask and is looped around the ear. The mask covers the nose and mouth completely.

Watch these videos to learn how to properly put on, take off, and clean your mask or face covering to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Watch as Simon demonstrates how to properly put on, take off, and store a mask at school. This video is appropriate for children and youth in Grades 4 and up.

Watch as Seran demonstrates how to properly put on, take off, and store a mask at school. This video is appropriate for children and youth in Grades 3 and under.

Using your mask or face covering

To use your mask or face covering you must:

Do not place a mask or face covering on:

Removing your mask or face covering

Masks can become contaminated on the outside or when touched by hands.

To remove your mask or face covering safely you must:

Step 1: Be very careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing your mask or face covering.

Step 2: Wash your hands immediately after you remove it.

Step 3: Place your used cloth mask or face covering directly into the washing machine.

Step 4: Wash your mask or face covering with other items using a hot cycle, and then dry it thoroughly. If you can’t wash your mask or face covering, throw it in the garbage right away.

Learn more about preventing the spread of COVID-19, including how to wash cloth masks and safely dispose of non-medical masks on Canada.ca/coronavirus (Government of Canada).

What does a mask do?

A mask or face covering acts as a barrier. It reduces the chance of spreading respiratory droplets to others and prevents droplets from landing on surfaces.

Wearing a mask or face covering in public or other settings helps stop the spread of COVID-19 in addition to vaccination and other public health measures.


This item was last modified on June 10, 2022