Infectious Diseases

Algoma Public Health

Non-Medical Mask or Face Covering

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On this Page:

Protect yourself against COVID-19
What does a non-medical mask do?
When to wear a non-medical mask

When you don't have to wear a face covering
How to use a non-medical mask

Removing your mask
Eye Protection

Guidance for Masks and Face Coverings for meeting and event facilities

FAQ - Face Masks

The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is by practicing physical distancing at all times and avoiding close contact with others outside of your household.

As of October 2, 2020, the mandatory masking policy was extended to all of Ontario for all indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services. 

Non-medical masks provide source control.  They do not protect the wearer but protects others.  Therefore, when everyone wears them, we are protecting each other.

What does a non-medical mask do?

A mask acts as a barrier. It reduces the chance of spreading respiratory droplets to others and prevents droplets from landing on surfaces when you cough or sneeze.

Wearing a non-medical mask in public or other settings is not a replacement for proven measures such as handwashing, physical distancing, and limiting non-essential travel. It's intended to provide protection to others by containing the respiratory droplets or saliva exhaled by the wearer through speaking, coughing, or sneezing. 

When to wear a non-medical mask

  • When entering the indoor premises of businesses, organizations and on public transit systems throughout Ontario. 
  • In personal service settings (e.g. hairstylists, tattoo artists, estheticians, massage therapists)
  • Outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained

How to use a non-medical mask safely

Non-medical or cloth masks have limits and you need to use them safely.

Your mask should:

  •   be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping
  •   be secured with ties or ear loops
  •   include multiple layers of fabric
  •   allow for breathing without restriction
  •   be able to be washed and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Using your mask

To use your mask you must:

  •   wash your hands immediately before putting it on and after taking it off
  •   avoid touching or adjusting your mask while wearing it
  •   be sure not to touch or rub your eyes while you wear it
  •   don’t share your mask with others

Masks should be changed when they get slightly wet or dirty

Do not place a mask on:

  • children under age 2
  • anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
  • anyone that cannot remove the mask without help

Removing your mask

Masks can become contaminated on the outside or when touched by hands.

To remove your mask safely you must:

Step 1: Be very careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing your mask.

Step 2: Wash your hands immediately after your remove it.

Step 3: Place your used mask directly into the washing machine.

Step 4: Wash your mask with other items using a hot cycle, and then dry it thoroughly. If you can’t wash your mask, throw it in the garbage right away.

Learn more about preventing the spread of COVID-19, including how to wash cloth masks and safely dispose of non-medical masks on (Ontario Government)



Eye Protection

May include masks or respirators with integrated eye protection, safety glasses, goggles or face shields


What is it?


  • It is a type of PPE that protects the eyes of the person wearing it from contact with splashes, sprays and splatter of bodily fluids from other people.
  • In health-care settings, face shields and other eye protection are worn with a face mask so that the eyes, nose and mouth of the wearer are protected from the fluids of other people.


When should it be used?


  • May be required for workers who are or may be exposed to splashes, large droplets, or saliva in the course of workplace duties in addition to a face mask.  Eye protection and a surgical/medical mask must be used by workers when unable to maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) from any individuals who are not wearing a mask and a physical barrier is not present (e.g. restaurant servers)


How should it fit?


  • There is no current evidence that shows wearing a face shield alone adequately protect others from the wearer's respiratory droplets. 
  • Should not be used as a substitute for a face mask