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

Removing your mask
Eye Protection

Guidance for Masks and Face Coverings for meeting and event facilities


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.


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