The Ontario government has released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria for the loosening of emergency measures, and guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.
On October 3rd 2020, the provincial government identified new restrictions that were adopted through the amended order O. Reg 364/20 (Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario [A Flexible Response to COVID-19] Act, 2020). They include mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services.
As per the revised regulation, the person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person in the indoor area of the premises of the business or organization, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin during any period when they are in the indoor area.
This frequently asked question (FAQ) document aims to provide more information on this provincial order as well as to provide information about face covering and mask use.
Who does not have to wear a mask/face covering?
PLEASE NOTE: it is not necessary for a person to present evidence to the person responsible for a business or place that they are entitled to any of the exceptions.
The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person in the indoor area of the premises of the business or organization, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin during any period when they are in the indoor area unless the person in the indoor area:
- is a child who is younger than two years of age;
- is attending a school or private school within the meaning of the Education Act that is operated in accordance with a return to school direction issued by the Ministry of Education and approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
- is attending a child care program at a place that is in compliance with the child care re-opening guidance issued by the Ministry of Education;
- is receiving residential services and supports in a residence 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;
- is in a correctional institution or in a custody and detention program for young persons in conflict with the law;
- is performing or rehearsing in a film or television production or in a concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance;
- has a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering;
- is unable to put on or remove their mask or face covering without the assistance of another person;
- needs to temporarily remove their mask or face covering while in the indoor area,
- to receive services that require the removal of their mask or face covering,
- (ii) to engage in an athletic or fitness activity,
- (iii) to consume food or drink, or
- (iv) as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety;
- is being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005;
- is being reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Human Rights Code; or
- performs work for the business or organization, is in an area that is not accessible to members of the public and is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person while in the indoor area.
PLEASE NOTE: The above language does not apply with respect to premises that are used as a dwelling if the person responsible for the business or organization ensures that persons in the premises who are not entitled to an exception set out in subsection (4) wear a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin in any common areas of the premises in which persons are unable to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from other persons.
Is wearing a mask or face covering still recommended in the locations that are excluded?
Wearing a mask or face covering is strongly recommended in situations where physical distancing is a challenge.
What is considered a face covering?
“Face Covering” means: a medical mask or a non-medical mask or other items used to cover the face such as a bandana, a scarf or cloth that covers the mouth, nose and chin ensuring a barrier that limits the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets.
Do face coverings or masks protect against COVID-19?
- Wearing a mask or face covering helps reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 if you are sick and protects people who are around you. Since persons may be transmitting the disease while having minimal or no signs or symptoms of illness, they should wear a face covering. When other people wear a face covering, they are helping to protect you.
- Mask/face coverings wearing cannot guarantee protection from the virus and should not replace proven measures such as frequent handwashing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, avoiding groups of people and crowded spaces, practicing physical distancing and staying at home if you are sick.
How do I properly wear a face covering/mask?
- Immediately wash your hands before putting the mask/face covering on, before adjusting it, before taking it off and after taking it off. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands.
- Make sure your mask/face covering allows for easy breathing and completely and comfortably covers the bridge of the nose, covers your mouth, fits snugly under your chin and against the sides of your face.
- Make sure your mask/face covering is secured to your head with ties or ear loops without the need to adjust frequently.
- If your mask/face covering has pleats, ensure that the pleats on the outside are facing down.
- If your mask/face covering has a metal strip over the nose, gently mould it over the bridge of your nose to ensure a close fit.
- Replace the mask/face covering as soon as it becomes damp, dirty, damaged or if it has shrunk after washing and drying.
- Avoid touching your mask/face covering to adjust it. This can contaminate your hands. If you do touch your mask/face covering, wash your hands.
- Do not share your mask/face covering with others, even within your own household.
- Masks/face coverings are not all made the same and may fit differently. Find a mask/face covering that fits your face and learn how to wear your mask/face covering.
- To protect yourself and others from COVID-19:
How do I wash and reuse my mask/face covering?
- Wearing a mask or face covering can increase your risk of infection if you touch your face more frequently to adjust it or if you do not wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off. All parts of masks or face coverings can become contaminated by breathing or when touched by your hands.
- Masks or face coverings become contaminated, especially when touched by your hands.
- After washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, remove your mask/face covering by pulling the ties or ear loops away from your ears.
- If your mask/face covering has a removable, non-reusable filter, make sure to remove and throw out the filter before machine or hand washing your mask.
- Clean surfaces that your mask/face covering touches
- For machine washing, put the mask/face covering directly into the washing machine or in a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine. Throw out the bag after you have used it to store your mask. If the bag is washable, you can wash it with your mask/face covering. Wash your hands again with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after handling your mask/face covering.
- Wash the masks/face covering with other laundry using a hot water cycle.
- For hand washing, use laundry detergent and water as hot as you can stand, then dry thoroughly.
- When discarding damaged or worn out masks/face covering, drop them in a lined garbage bin.
- Do not leave any discarded masks/face covering in places where others can be exposed to them such as shopping carts, public seats, and bus stops or on the ground.
- Cloth masks/face coverings can be re-used throughout the day if not soiled and undamaged. With clean hands, remove the mask from your face and fold it in half so that the outer surface is inwards (so that the contaminated outer surface is not contacting anything during storage) and place it in a clean, sealable bag until ready to use it again the same day.
- Disposable masks/face coverings should not be washed, reused or recycled.
How can I make a cloth mask or face covering?
You can use a bandana or scarf as a face covering. There are also different ways to make your own non-medical mask, including a new-sew method using a t-shirt. Visit Health Canada’s website for sew and no-sew instructions to make a homemade face covering.
Health Canada indicates that non-medical face masks or face coverings should:
- allow for easy breathing
- fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
- maintain their shape after washing and drying
- be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment
- be made of at least 2 layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen)
- be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping
Can a face shield be used instead of a mask/face covering?
- A face shield is not a substitute for wearing a mask/face covering, as it does not filter respiratory droplets. A face shield may provide additional protection for the wearer against droplets expelled from another person, however these droplets may still be inhaled around the shield. Respiratory droplets expelled by the wearer may escape around the sides of the face shield, which therefore provides less protection to others. If you choose to wear a face shield, we recommend - if possible - to wear it in addition to a properly fitted cloth masks.
For those that cannot wear a mask, is a face shield a good alternative?
- A face shield would not be considered an equal substitute for a mask as it does not provide filtering capacity. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of face shields as a “better than nothing” alternative to masks/face coverings if there is a shortage of non-medical masks/face coverings or for populations who are not able to properly wear non-medical masks, such as individuals with a respiratory condition that prevents them from wearing a mask/face covering. The WHO makes note that face shields are inferior to face masks/face coverings at preventing the spread of an infection through droplets and at a minimum should extend below the chin and cover the sides of the face.
My Workplace has Plexiglas barriers, do I need to wear a mask/face covering?
- Workplaces are encouraged to have other safety measures in place. These include Plexiglas barriers, enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures, and steps to ensure physical distancing. Employees are still required to wear face coverings when other safety measures are in place, in the areas that fall under this Order.
Do I still need to stay 2 metres away from others if I am wearing a mask/face covering?
- Yes. The business or facility operator shall ensure that the place of business or facility is operated to enable members of the public in the place of business or facility to, to the fullest extent possible, maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from other persons. Wearing a mask is not an alternative to physical distancing. Every effort should be made to keep a 2-metre distance even when wearing a mask.
Do I need to wear a mask/face covering outdoors?
- This order is only for indoor public settings; however, in other situations where physical distancing may be a challenge wearing a mask/face covering is strongly recommended.
Who will ensure face covering use?
- The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person in the indoor area of the premises of the business or organization, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin during any period when they are in the indoor area.
I cannot afford a mask/face covering; where can I get one?
- Bruce Power has donated 120,000 one-time masks/face coverings to local organizations including Chambers of Commerce and Food Banks in support of ensuring people have access in support of the re-opening. In addition, over July and August, the company will distribute 30,000 re-usable masks/face coverings through all employees, pensioners and a range of community organizations to support the need for masks in the community. Bruce Power is also launching a Program called ‘Strength in Numbers’ where it will offer organizations its bulk buying power so smaller organizations have access to this lower pricing. For organizations that are looking for information on these they can email firstname.lastname@example.org
If it is too hot to wear a mask/face covering, can I chose not to wear it?
- Yes. A medical condition may inhibits one’s ability to wear a mask or face covering. People are exempt for any medical reason including heat-related health effects.
- Mask do not need to be worn outdoors, in most situations, and most public places do have conditioned air to assist with the comfort of wearing a mask/face covering. In situations where physical distancing may be a challenge, mask use is encouraged.
I still have questions, where can I call?
Individuals and commercial operators may contact the Grey Bruce Health Unit COVID-19 Helpline (519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 ext. 3000) with specific questions or concerns.