Mandatory Masks in Toronto: What You Need to Know ‬

Effective July 7, wearing a mask or face covering will be required in indoor public spaces under the Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw.

Wearing non-medical (cloth) masks or face coverings can be an added public health measure for containing the spread of COVID-19 when it is used in combination with frequent handwashing, physical distancing and staying home when sick.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. The infection spreads from close contact with someone with COVID-19 through their respiratory droplets or touching our face with contaminated hands. Respiratory droplets can include coughing, sneezing, talking or even normal breathing. When a person is singing, laughing or talking loudly, the droplets can travel further than two metres/six feet.

People may unknowingly pass the infection to others because they do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or have not yet developed symptoms (pre-symptomatic). The highest risk for infection is with prolonged close contact.

  • Watch Proper Use of a Cloth Face Mask Opens in new window
  • Watch 5 Things to Remember about Face Masks and Coverings Opens in new window.
  • Watch Choosing the Right Mask or Face Covering Opens in new window.

Universal Masking for Source Control

As we move to Stage 2 of reopening, more people are returning to work, reconnecting, moving around the city and using public transit. This is making physical distancing more challenging, or nearing impossible. The risk of spreading COVID-19 is greater indoors as there is less air flow and ventilation, more crowding, and a greater chance of touching surfaces that have been contaminated by respiratory droplets.

The use of masks or face coverings as source control means keeping our respiratory droplets to ourselves to prevent spreading it to others. There is evidence that cloth masks can reduce the spread of respiratory droplets into the air and landing on surfaces. Jurisdictions that have legislated mandatory masking have seen a decrease in new COVID-19 cases.

The use of masks/face coverings is non-invasive, inexpensive and it can save lives. Masks may also serve as a visual reminder to everyone that we need to be vigilant and maintain physical distance.

Starting on July 7th, 2020 everyone in Toronto is required to wear a mask or face covering when entering indoor public spaces. Exceptions include people who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, children under two years old, or people who require accommodation in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code. Proof of a medical condition is not required.

Non-medical Masks or Face Coverings

Non-medical masks or face coverings can help keep your respiratory droplets to yourself and protect others when we are unable to maintain physical distancing. The general public should wear non-medical (cloth) masks or face coverings when going to public places, and when entering enclosed public settings. Non-medical masks or face coverings can be made with household items or purchased materials. It is important to use and clean a mask properly (see below). Using a mask incorrectly can accidentally spread infection to the wearer.

Wearing a Mask at Work

Do not use N95 and surgical masks as they are in limited supply, and are urgently needed for healthcare workers. Also be respectful of people who are not wearing a mask. Some health conditions make breathing through a mask difficult.

Qualities of a Good Cloth Mask or Face Covering

A good cloth mask or face covering should:

  • Be at least two layers of tightly woven cotton or linen.
  • Cover over nose, mouth and chin, and be easy to breathe through.
  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops without gaping or impairing vision.
  • Be comfortable to avoid the need for adjustments when wearing.
  • Maintain their shape after washing and drying.
  • Not contain non-breathable materials such as plastic.

For instructions on making a mask using fabric, a t-shirt or a bandana, visit the Government of Canada website. Opens in new window

Proper Use of a Mask or Face Covering

  • Do not share your mask with others.
  • Wash your hands before putting on and after taking off a mask.
  • Place the mask over your nose, mouth and chin.
  • Avoid touching your face and mask while using it.
  • Change your mask as soon as it is moist or dirty.
  • Do not leave your mask tucked under the chin, hanging from your ear, or on your forehead.
  • Remove the mask by the ear loops without touching the front of the mask.
  • Put used mask in a plastic bag or directly in the laundry bin to be washed.
  • Launder cloth masks with other items using the hot cycle and dryer.

People Who Should Not Use Face Masks

  • Children under the age of two.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or cannot remove the mask without assistance.

Wearing a Mask at Work

Non-medical masks or face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE), and may not be suitable for occupational health and safety purposes. Employers should consult with their Occupational Health and Safety guidelines to ensure that measures that are appropriate to their workplace setting.

Source: The City of Toronto

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