Beginning Friday, July 24, 2020 at 12:01 AM, it is mandatory that people in the general public wear a mask or other form of face covering in indoor public spaces.
Many questions have been posed and we have provided this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to help the public understand what is expected under the mandatory mask directive.
This page and its content will continue to evolve as we receive more questions and information. Please continue to refer to the website for up to date and accurate information.
- Get a mask/face covering if you don’t already have one. Make one if you are able.
- Review how to use and care for them properly. You can find information on our Masks or Face Covering page
- Make sure they fit properly. Masks or face coverings should cover your mouth, nose and chin. You may need to make adjustments so that they are worn effectively and don’t cause problems like slipping down, having gaps, and/or fogging glasses.
- If you think you may have difficulty wearing a mask/face covering, we encourage you to try them out for a short period of time, or try other types of face coverings that may work better for you.
A properly constructed and fitted mask is the recommended option. Other face coverings that cover the nose, mouth and chin are reasonable alternatives.
Keep in mind that wearing a mask or face covering provides an additional layer of protection against COVID-19. A mask is not a replacement for other public health measures, it is important to continue all the other actions such as physical distancing, hand hygiene and staying home if you have any symptoms.
Yes, physical distancing is still an important practice for preventing the spread of COVID-19, even when you are wearing a mask or face covering.
Face shields do not replace masks or face coverings. Face shields are meant to protect the eyes but do not work to contain the wearer’s respiratory droplets since the nose and mouth are not properly covered. If face shields are used, they must be worn with a mask.
In accordance with the Instruction Letter to Employers, Business Owners and Operators provided by Dr. DeMille, the Medical Officer of Health, the following exemptions are allowed:
- Children under two years of age;
- Children under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally who refuse to wear a mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;
- Individuals with medical conditions rendering them unable to safely wear a mask, including breathing difficulties, cognitive difficulties, hearing or communication difficulties;
- Individuals who cannot wear or are unable to apply or remove a mask without assistance, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or who have protections under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.19, as amended;
- Any person who is employed by or is an agent of the Operator of an Enclosed Public Space and is within or behind a physical barrier (e.g. Plexiglass).
Above exemptions do not apply in personal service settings. ALL clients must wear a mask or face covering at all times while receiving services. The only exception is when clients are receiving services on an area of their face that would otherwise be covered by a face covering.
Dr. DeMille has also instructed that no one should be:
- Required to provide proof of exemption or
- Turned away from indoor public spaces if unable to wear a mask
Mandatory masking in enclosed public spaces and public transportation will be enacted and enforced in “good faith” to primarily educate people on wearing masks or face coverings and promote their use in enclosed public spaces. Businesses are expected to provide verbal reminders of the masking requirement to persons entering or without a mask or face covering or those observed removing their face covering for an extended period of time. Those exempt from the policy are not required to show proof of exemption.
“Enclosed public space” means indoor public spaces of businesses and organizations that are accessed by the public. For example, restaurants, retail establishments, churches, libraries, sports facilities, waiting rooms, public and private transportation and personal service settings are all “enclosed public spaces”. Schools, child care centres, day camps, and other indoor spaces not accessible to the public (e.g. residential buildings or condominiums) are not considered an enclosed public space.
The current instructions are made by the Medical Officer of Health under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (Government of Ontario) and specifically, Regulation 263/20 (Government of Ontario). The Medical Officer of Health continues to assess the need for public health measures and would reassess actions as legislation and local and provincial COVID-19 circumstance evolve.
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.
As per public health recommendations, children under two should not wear masks. Children under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally who are unable or refuse to wear a mask or face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver are exempt from wearing masks in enclosed public places.
Here are some ways to encourage your child to wear a mask:
- Explain why - Use this as a teaching moment to explain why masks are important to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Use words they can understand and give them time to ask questions.
- Give choices - Have a couple different masks for your children to choose from. Giving the option between wearing the blue mask or the pink mask helps make your children feel independent and in control, especially in a time where things may be changing frequently.
- Include masks with playtime - Let your kids play with clean cloth masks in a space where they feel comfortable. This can help them become more comfortable with the masks.
- Lead by example - When you are going to an indoor public space, show your kids how you wear your mask and why you are wearing it. Be a role model for your kids to help normalize their use of masks.
There are a few times when wearing a mask indoors is not mandatory. These situations include the following:
- While actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity including water-based activities;
- Consuming food or drink;
- Receiving services to areas of the face that would otherwise be covered by a face covering, when and where this is permitted under the regulations; or,
- For any emergency or medical purpose
There is currently no province-wide mandatory mask order, however many jurisdictions have implemented a mandatory mask order for their areas. If you are travelling and want to know if masking is mandatory, check out their local public health unit website for details.
No, all clients must wear a mask at all times when receiving personal services. Exemptions do not apply in these settings. A client may only remove a mask or face covering to receive services on an area of their face that would otherwise be covered by a face covering (i.e. beard trim, lip wax, facial etc.)