Masks (COVID-19)

What does a mask do?

Wearing a mask is one way to protect yourself and others.

A mask acts as a barrier. Masks are one of the most effective individual public health measures that we can use to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. When layered with other preventative measures—such as vaccination, hand washing, physical distancing, and staying home when ill—a well-constructed, well-fitting, and properly worn mask can help prevent you from getting COVID-19 and spreading COVID-19 to others.

A mask can protect others from potential COVID-19 droplets you may spread and prevents you from breathing in infectious respiratory droplets from others.

We should all do our part to reduce transmission of COVID-19 within our communities and protect the most vulnerable and our health care system.

Choosing a mask

Wear a high-quality, well-fitted, comfortable mask.

High-quality: A medical mask or respirator can provide better protection.

Well-fitted: Your mask should fit your face, covering your nose, mouth, and chin without gaping. Ties or ear loops should fit securely to avoid adjusting during use.

Comfortable: Your mask should be comfortable, easy to breathe through, and not limit your vision.

Choose the best quality and best fitting mask or respirator that’s available to you. No matter which type of mask you choose, proper fit is a key factor in its effectiveness.

Face coverings such as neck gaiters, scarves, bandanas, and face shields alone are not recommended. They are not effective filters and they do not provide a tight fit around your nose and mouth to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Don’t use masks or respirators with exhalation valves. They allow infectious respiratory particles to escape. They do not help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Visit the Government of Canada’s website to learn more about COVID-19 mask use: Types of masks and respirators.

When to wear a mask

A mask must be worn:

A mask should also be worn in crowded indoor public spaces, especially those at higher risk of severe infection.

How to use a mask

Masks need to be worn correctly. A well-fitted mask 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 and take off your mask 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

To use your mask you must:

Do not place a mask on:

Removing your mask

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

To remove your mask safely you must:

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

Step 2: Throw your mask in the garbage right away.

Step 3: Wash or sanitize your hands immediately.

This item was last modified on March 8, 2024