Face coverings and face masks
Learn about face coverings or masks and how to properly wear, fit, remove and clean your mask to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
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When you have to wear a mask
Wearing a mask is an important way to protect yourself and others.
Masking requirements will continue to apply in the following select indoor settings until June 11, 2022:
- public transit, including indoor areas and vehicles (this does not include businesses or organizations that provide sightseeing or touring services)
- hospitals, including private hospitals, and psychiatric facilities
- other health care settings (such as clinics that provide health care services, doctors’ offices, Community Health Centres, public health/immunization clinics, mental health clinics, etc.)
- labs and specimen collection centres
- independent health facilities (for example., dialysis, birth centres, nuclear medicine)
- employees and contractors of home and community care providers
- long-term care and retirement homes
- shelters and other congregate care settings that provide care and services to medically and socially vulnerable individuals
The Chief Medical Officer of Health also strongly recommends wearing masks in indoor areas of public settings.
Regardless of where you are, you are encouraged to wear a tight-fitting, well constructed mask if you feel it is the right choice for you.
Businesses and organizations may also choose to implement their own rules related to masking.
If you are recovering from COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 symptoms
To help stop the spread, you should wear a mask at all times when outside your home in public spaces (including school and child care, unless under 2 years of age), when:
- you are recovering from COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19
- you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19
If you are at higher risk of severe illness
People at higher risk for severe illness are encouraged to wear a mask for greater protection, particularly those who have not received all recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including:
- people who are older
- people with certain medical conditions
- people who are pregnant or have recently given birth
When you don’t have to wear a mask
In settings that require you to wear a mask, there are some situations when you do not need to wear one.
You do not need medical documentation to support any of the exceptions below.
Children do not have to wear a mask if they are younger than two years old.
Health and accommodations
You do not need to wear a mask if you:
- have a medical condition that inhibits your ability to wear a face covering
- are unable to put on or remove your face covering without help from someone else
- are receiving accommodations according to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 or the Human Rights Code
If your workplace requires masks, you do not need to wear it when you are working in an indoor area that is not accessible to the public and allows you to maintain a distance of at least two metres from anyone else.
Residents of care settings
Residents do not need to wear a mask in:
- retirement homes, long-term care homes or other similar dwellings except when they are in a common area and can’t maintain a distance of at least two metres from others
- residences for people with disabilities (any residences listed in the definition of “residential services and supports” in subsection 4 (2) of the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008)
Temporarily taking off your mask
If you are in a setting that requires a mask, you can take it off temporarily:
- to receive services that require you to take it off (for example, at the dentist or doctor’s office)
- to engage in an athletic or fitness activity
- to eat or drink
- as necessary for health and safety purposes
- fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
- maintain their shape and integrity after washing and drying (for re-usable masks)
- be made of at least two layers of tightly woven material (such as cotton or linen) and should have a third, middle layer of filter-type fabric
- be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping
How to properly use masks
When wearing a mask, you should:
- wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (practise good hand hygiene while you are wearing the mask)
- make sure the mask fits well around your nose and mouth
- avoid moving the mask around or adjusting it often
- avoid touching the mask while using it
- not share it with others
Masks should be changed when they get slightly wet or dirty.
Remove or dispose of masks
When removing a mask, you should:
- throw it out into a lined garbage bin if your mask is disposable
- wash your hands
Do not leave any discarded masks in shopping carts or on the ground.
If the mask can be cleaned, you should:
- put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine
- wash with other items using a hot cycle with laundry detergent (no special soaps are needed), and dry thoroughly
- wash your hands after putting the mask into the laundry
All masks that cannot be cleaned should be thrown out and replaced as soon as they get slightly wet, dirty or crumpled.
Masks in the workplace
In addition to the above general requirements and advice for masks, workers may have separate requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) from their employer.
If you are a business or health care organization and you need PPE, you can find a company or business association that supplies personal protective equipment.