1. What is a face covering?
A face covering means a medical mask or a non-medical mask or other face coverings such as a bandana, a scarf, or cloth that covers the mouth, and nose ensuring a barrier that limits the community transmission. Face shields on their own are not acceptable forms of a face covering for the purpose of these instructions.
2. What does a face covering do?
A face covering acts as a barrier. It reduces the chance of spreading respiratory droplets to others and prevents droplets from landing on surfaces when you cough or sneeze. Wearing a face covering in public or other settings is not a replacement for measures such as handwashing, physical distancing, and limiting non-essential travel.
3. Who is exempt from wearing a face covering?
Exemptions are in effect for multiple reasons, including medical and age-related, and no proof is required. The goal is to ensure the best protection possible (including for those who cannot wear face coverings) until a vaccine or specific treatment are available.
A person is exempt from wearing a face covering on the premises if:
- Children under two years of age or children under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally who refuse to a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver.
- Persons with medical conditions who cannot safely wear a face covering (for example, due to breathing difficulties, cognitive difficulties, hearing or communication difficulties).
- Persons who cannot wear or remove a face covering without assistance, including people who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or are protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H. 19 as amended.
Persons who for any religious or cultural reason cannot wear a face covering, or cannot cover the face in a manner that would cover the nose and mouth.
4. Where can I get a face covering?
Face coverings can be purchased from many local businesses. The Government of Canada also has instructions on how to make sew and no-sew face coverings if you were looking for a low-cost option.
5. Am I required to wear a face covering?
Yes, you are required to wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces, unless you have an exemption (see question 3.). No person is permitted to enter or remain in an enclosed public spaces, including a public transit vehicle, unless they are wearing a face covering. The face covering may be temporarily removed to access services provided by the business or organization. It is important to create good habits to stop the spread of COVID-19. Continue to be respectful and patient. Follow the face covering policy of the business or organization you are entering. Everyone is doing their best in this rapidly evolving situation.
6. What material should I use if I make my own face covering?
Use two or three layers of tightly woven fabric that is breathable. Cotton with a higher thread count is a great option. You can use fabrics you already have on hand like extra pillow cases or t-shirts. The fabric should be suitable to withstand multiple washing cycles using hot water.
7. What is the evidence that supports the wearing of face coverings?
Public health is about following evidence. As the science and our understanding of the virus has grown, our stance on face coverings has evolved.
Increasingly, research points to the use of face coverings as an additional layer of “source protection”. We also know that epidemiological evidence indicates that the widespread use of face coverings by all persons decreases spread of respiratory droplets to others and prevents droplets from landing on surfaces when you cough or sneeze. Expert opinion supports the widespread use of face coverings to decrease transmission of COVID-19.
- Government of Canada, non-medical masks and face coverings
- Government of Ontario, face covering and face masks
- Public Health Ontario’s synopsis of key articles on COVID-19
- Public Health Ontario, COVID-19—what we know so far about…wearing masks in public (PDF, 1.2 MB)
8. How will the heat of summer affect wearing a face covering?
Your health comes first! If it is too hot to tolerate a face covering and you cannot keep two metres distance from others when you go out – don’t go! A face covering will still work in hot temperatures but may need to be changed more frequently in hot and humid temperatures as it may become damp more quickly.
9. Where can I find more information on face coverings?
For more information on face coverings, please visit our page on face coverings.