Updated November 6, 2020.
- Who is required to wear a face covering under this order?
- Who should not wear a face covering?
- Are employees of a commercial establishment required to wear a face covering?
- Who is providing the face coverings?
- What type of face coverings should be worn?
- What about face shields?
- Are clear pastic mouth shields, masks with valves or sporty neck gaiters/tubes appropriate to wear as face coverings?
- In what situations can I remove my face covering?
- What type of proof is required for an exemption?
- What is a Section 22 Class Order?
- Where am I required to wear a face covering (ie. what is considered a commercial establishment and private commercial vehicle)?
- Where are face coverings not required under this order?
- Can establishments determine their own mandatory face covering policies outside of this order?
- Why make face coverings mandatory now?
- Why are face coverings a safe and effective way to prevent COVID-19?
- Why do I still need to stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from people if wearing a face covering?
- Can the Medical Officer of Health order mandatory face coverings in WDG?
- How can establishments notify customers, patrons, employees or visitors about the order before they enter our establishment?
- How do I properly wear and care for my face covering?
- How will face covering requirements be enforced?
- Who is required to use the hand sanitizer provided by establishments?
- Is hand sanitizer safe for children?
Any customer, patron, employee or visitor, who enters the establishment.
- Children under the age of two years.
- Children under the age of five years (either chronologically or developmentally) who refuse to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver.
- People whose ability to breathe in any way is inhibited by the face covering.
- People that have any other medical reason they cannot wear a face covering safely, such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information.
Yes, employees are covered under the local section 22 order. Employees are required to wear a face covering in areas in which customers interact with one another or with staff members or in any areas that are open or accessible to members of the public, such as:
- retail floor/aisles;
- cashier area/queues;
- service desks/counters;
- publicly accessible washrooms.
Workplaces may have other safety measures in place like plexiglass barriers, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and physical distancing, but employees are still required to wear face coverings when other safety measures are in place.
Separately under the provincial order, employees are required to wear a face covering in all workplaces when physical distancing is a challenge (including areas not accessible to the public such as, staff lounge areas, stock/storage rooms, workshop/service rooms, private offices, shipping/receiving areas, outdoor patio/display areas of a retail location (e.g., outdoor garden centres)).
Establishments may choose to have disposable masks available for the public, but it’s not a requirement. Visitors of a commercial establishment must supply their own face covering.
Face coverings do not have to be fancy or expensive but must cover the mouth, nose and chin and provide a barrier that limits the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets and can include:
- a medical mask (while medical masks count as face coverings in this order, Public Health recommends that they be saved for health care workers and that members of the public wear non-medical face coverings),
- a non-medical mask (cloth, homemade etc.),
- or other face coverings such as a bandana, a scarf or cloth.
Masks with exhalation valves/vents and mouth shields should NOT be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others. Face coverings that provide a barrier that limits the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets should be worn.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) recently updated their recommendation for people to consider using face coverings that are made of three layers, including a filter layer. This is due to having a better understanding of droplet transmission. The addition of a filter layer improves the level of protection that can be provided by non-medical face coverings. Two-layer face coverings are also effective and can continue to be used. However, if you are going to be purchasing or making new non-medical face coverings, it is recommended to use the updated guidance from PHAC and choose those with three layers of protection where possible.
Remember, non-medical masks or face coverings should:
✅ be made of at least 2 layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen), three layers with a filter layer is better.
✅ be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping
✅ 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
You may choose to make your own face covering and can follow these online instructions on how to make Homemade Non-Medical Face Coverings.
Face shields do not provide full coverage of the mouth, nose and chin, so do not contain respiratory droplets like a face covering. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that they “do not recommend use of face shields as a substitute for cloth face coverings”. The CDC also states “if face shields are used without a mask, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.”
Are clear plastic mouth shields, masks with valves or sporty neck gaiters/tubes appropriate to wear as face coverings?
Mouth shields are NOT a suitable face covering option as they do not fit snugly around the mouth, nose and chin. Mouth shields allow infectious respiratory droplets to spread outside the mask, and do not help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks with valves are also not suitable for this reason.
Cloth or fabric face coverings should have 2-3 layers of tightly woven material. If you choose to wear a neck gaiter/tube style, be sure it has at least two-three layers of fabric. If you choose to wear a bandana, be sure to fold/tie it so there are at least two-three layers of fabric covering the mouth and nose and secure it snugly to the face.
A face covering must be worn inside the establishment at all times, unless it is reasonably required to temporarily remove it for services provided by the establishment including:
- While eating or drinking;
- While participating in a religious rite that involves eating or drinking or otherwise reasonably requires the removal of the mask;
- While exercising or participating in an activity that requires physical exertion; an
- While participating in an activity where a face covering may become wet.
No proof is required for an exemption and Public Health is not asking businesses to check or require documentation. The order states “owners and operators shall not require employees or members of the public to provide proof that they qualify for any of the exemptions.” The exemptions listed in the order are there to ensure that people who cannot wear a face covering are still able to access commercial establishments.
Our expectation is that individuals who self-identify as meeting an exemption should be allowed into the establishment, without requiring any documentation.
“Mask exemption cards” circulating in the community are not real and not needed.
Under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, a medical officer of health can issue an order to “require a person to take or to refrain from taking any action in respect of a communicable disease.” The full section 22 Class Order issued by Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health, can be found here.
Under this order, a face covering is required when entering and while on the premises of any commercial establishment (this means “mean those portions of a fixed commercial premises or other premises that are openly accessible to members of the public and that are used for the purposes of offering goods or services (including religious services) to members of the public”) in the WDG region.
- Any areas in which customers interact with one another or with staff members;
- Any areas that are open or accessible to members of the public (except in areas outside, whether or not the outdoor area is covered, such as a restaurant patio)
A face covering is required in private commercial vehicles as of September 18, 2020. This mean “a vehicle used for provision of commercial transportation services to members of the general public (bus/taxi/limo/ride share) but does not include a vehicle that is owned or operated by a governmental authority”. Vehicles operated by a government authority may have their own face covering requirements, be sure to check with the transportation authority before travel.
Examples of where a face covering is required under the class order can be found in the class order under Definitions and Scope of the Order.
Examples of where a face covering is required under the provincial order can be found on their Face coverings and face masks page.
The use of face coverings is recommended for the health and safety of all customers, patrons, employees or visitors, in situations where physical distancing (spatial separation of individuals by at least two metres) is difficult to maintain. However, there are settings not subject to the local section 22 order, even if they would otherwise fall within the definition of a commercial establishment.
Examples of where a face covering is not required under the class order include:
- Day camps;
- Day care centres;
- Community centres;
- Offices that are not open to members of the public;
- Professional offices where clients receive purchased services (e.g. lawyer’s/accountant’s office) that are not open to members of the public;
- Public transportation (bus/train);
- Independent health facilities; and
- Offices of regulated health professionals.
Establishments can determine their own policies in addition to this order if they so choose. Since there are people who cannot use face coverings, appropriate and reasonable exemptions should be provided by the business.
The order is in effect from 12:01 a.m. on September 18, 2020 until rescinded by the Medical Officer of Health.
COVID-19 is still in our communities and in Ontario and wearing a face covering is an effective measure to help keep our communities open and healthy. Wearing a face covering when in public spaces protects others from your respiratory droplets, but it is still important to physical distance as much as possible, keep washing your hands often and to avoid touching your face. If everyone does their part, we can continue to effectively live with the virus until there is a treatment or vaccine.
COVID-19 mainly spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets can travel up to 2 metres (6 feet) so wearing a face covering that covers your mouth, nose, and chin will help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others or landing on surfaces.
Wearing a face covering when around anyone outside of your immediate household protects others from your respiratory droplets and new evidence shows it also protects you.
The use of face coverings must be used in combination with good hand hygiene, not touching your face and physical distancing whenever possible.
Physical distancing should be practiced whenever possible because respiratory droplets can travel up to 2 metres (6 feet). Wearing a face covering is an important additional measure to protect others from droplets, expecially when physical distancing is not possible.
As the Medical Officer of Heath, Dr. Mercer has the authority and responsibility to stop the spread of infectious diseases in our community. Each Medical Officer of Health has authority under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to implement an order to protect our local community. These local measures complement the recommendations and orders from the province.
How can establishments notify customers, patrons, employees or visitors about the order before they enter our establishment?
WDGPH has created a detailed section 22 class order poster for businesses to use at commercial establishments to alert any customer, patron, employee or visitor about the order. There is also a poster for businesses with simplified instructions. The poster is also available in French.
It is the responsibility of the owner or operator to ensure people do not enter without a face covering unless they indicate they are exempt. We have similar rules for other societal norms such as shirts, shoes and cigarettes.
No one is required by the order to use hand sanitizer. The requirement under the order is for owners/operators to make it available.
According to the Canadian Paediatric Society:
- Young children should only use hand sanitizer with adult supervision.
- When using hand sanitizer on yourself or others including children, apply a dime-sized amount to dry hands. Rub hands together until completely dry.
- Keep hand sanitizers out of reach of pets and children. Young children, especially toddlers, may be attracted by the pleasant smell and the brightly coloured bottles.
- Make sure children do not put any hand sanitizer into their mouth. Ingesting even a small amount of hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning in children.
- If you suspect your child has ingested hand sanitizer, call a Poison Control Centre immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to develop.
- Watch to ensure children do not rub their eyes when their hands are wet with sanitizer.
- As long as the hand sanitizer has been rubbed in until completely dry, it is safe for children to eat with their hands or lick their hands.