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Masks: Essential tool to defending against COVID-19

As businesses begin to reopen, we all need to continue our efforts to protect one another.

Staying home as much as possible, avoiding close contact with others by practicing physical distancing, washing your hands thoroughly and often, not touching your face, and proper cough and sneeze etiquette are still the best ways to defend against the spread of COVID-19.

An additional method of protection that is becoming more popular is to wear a face covering or mask while out in the community. This is especially true when physical distancing is a challenge such as when you are taking public transit, visiting a smaller store, when you are receiving essential services, or are in a situation where face coverings are mandatory.

While wearing a face covering can help protect others around you, it is important to understand that this is just a tool and that it is not a cure-all. It is also crucial that you understand how to properly handle coverings and that you are taking the right precautions if you decide to use one.

Here are some helpful dos and don’ts:

  • Always wash your hands before putting it on and right after taking it off.
  • Wear a face covering that fits well around your nose and mouth, without gaping at the sides.
  • Put it on and take it off properly by touching just the straps.
  • Store it in a clean place and wash it regularly, if reusable, or discard in a trash can as soon as it is damp, soiled or crumpled.
  • Don’t fiddle with it while out in public.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth before taking it off if you haven’t thoroughly washed your hands first.
  • Don’t share coverings or masks with others.
  • Don’t use professional- and medical-grade face masks. These are in short supply and must be reserved for use by front line healthcare workers during the pandemic.

Remember, face coverings are not for everyone  children under the age of two or anyone who has trouble breathing should not wear face coverings or masks.

If you aren’t able to buy a non-medical mask, you can make your own by following instructions available on the Health Canada website. Homemade masks should ideally be made of two layers of fabric, with different patterns so you know which is on the front. Remember, homemade face coverings and non-medical masks will not protect you from catching COVID-19 or any other virus, but they do protect others from your secretions or droplets. This is important with a virus like COVID-19 since you can be contagious even if you don’t know you have symptoms.

Thank you for continuing to take steps to help protect the health of our community. We are all in this together.

Together we are making a difference. For more information on our response to COVID-19, visit

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