Wear a non-medical mask or face covering to prevent COVID-19 spread
Strong public health actions are needed to prevent the spread of Covid-19
To protect yourself and others, wear a non-medical mask or face covering when:
- you're in public and you might come into close contact with others
- you're in shared indoor spaces with people from outside your immediate household
- advised by your local public health authority
Mandatory use of masks or face coverings
Public health officials make recommendations for wearing masks based on a number of factors. These factors include rates of infection and/or transmission in the community. In some jurisdictions, the use of masks is now mandatory in many indoor public spaces and on public transit. Check with your local public health authority on the requirements for your location.
Proper material, structure and fit
Well-designed and well-fitting masks or face coverings can prevent the spread of your infectious respiratory droplets. They may also help protect you from the infectious respiratory droplets of others.
How well a mask or face covering works depends on the materials used, how the mask is made, and most importantly, how well it fits.
A mask or face covering can be homemade or purchased, and should:
be made of at least 3 layers
- 2 layers should be tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton or linen
- the third (middle) layer should be a filter-type fabric, such as non-woven polypropylene fabric
- be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaping
- allow for easy breathing
- fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
- be comfortable and not require frequent adjustments
- be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
- maintain its shape after washing and drying
Children and masks
Children under the age of 2 should not wear masks or face coverings.
Between the ages of 2 and 5, children may be able to wear a mask if supervised. This will depend on their ability to tolerate it as well as put it on and take it off.
Children older than 5 should wear one in situations or setting where they are recommande to wear one.
Hearing impairments and clear masks
If you're hearing impaired, or interact with people who use lip-reading to communicate, consider wearing a clear mask.
If a clear mask isn't available:
- use written communication, closed captioning or decrease background noise as much as possible
- if writing, don't share writing items
- maintain at least a 2-metre distance if you must rely on lip-reading to communicate
- only the person speaking should remove their mask while communicating
Clear masks can also be used in settings where facial expression is an important part of communication.
Appropriate use and storage
Masks and face coverings are only effective if worn properly. Uncovering your nose or mouth while wearing one:
- eliminates any protection it may offer
- allows you to breathe in and exhale potentially infectious respiratory droplets
Don't hang the mask or face covering from your ears or place it under your chin.
It's important to keep your mask or face covering clean when not in use, or when eating or drinking.
Store it in a clean paper or cloth bag until you put it on again.
Soiled masks or face coverings should be placed in a secure, waterproof bag or container until they can be washed in the laundry.
When wearing a non-medical mask or face covering:
- don't use non-medical masks or face coverings that can't be removed quickly and safely if necessary
- don't share non-medical masks or face coverings with others
- don't use non-medical masks or face coverings that impair vision or interfere with tasks
- don't place a non-medical mask or face covering on children under the age of 2
- don't use non-medical masks or face coverings made of non-breathable materials
- don't secure non-medical masks or face coverings with tape or other inappropriate materials
- don't use non-medical masks or face coverings made of materials that easily fall apart, such as tissues
- don't place a non-medical mask or face covering on anyone:
- who's unable to remove it without assistance
- who has trouble breathing
Stigma and those who can't wear masks
Some people may not be able to wear a mask or face covering. Be kind rather than making assumptions about those you see without them. For those unable to wear one, singling them out in public can be socially isolating and lead to anxiety.
Masks aren't recommended for:
- people who suffer from illnesses or disabilities that make it difficult to put on or take off a mask
- those who have difficulty breathing
- children under the age of 2