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Should I wear a mask? Information about assessing my risk.
There is still significant Omicron transmission in the North and in Timiskaming, so we all need to continue to be cautious. Now that masks are no longer mandatory, personal risk assessments are important to figure out whether you should continue to wear a mask. We ask that everyone be COVID kind and respectful of others’ choices.
You are required to wear a mask if you have traveled internationally in the past 14 days (for unvaccinated children age 5-11 only), if your symptoms started or you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days, if you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, or if you live with someone who is ill.
You may want to continue wearing a mask if:
- You or someone in your social circle is immunocompromised, is pregnant or has recently given birth, has underlying health conditions, or is an older adult.
- You or someone you live with is unvaccinated or is too young to be vaccinated.
- You are visiting someone at a higher risk of severe illness. Note that some disabilities are invisible, and do not assume that others are low risk.
- You feel more comfortable wearing a mask.
These situations are called the “3 C’s to Avoid” because they have a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission. You may want to continue wearing a mask in these situations:
- Crowded places with many people nearby
- Confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation
- Close contact settings, especially where people have close-range conversations.
Where are masks required?
Masks are no longer required by law in all indoor public spaces and in indoor workplaces. However, masks continue to be required:
- For people whose symptoms have started or who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days.
- For people who are close contacts of someone with COVID-19 or who live with someone who is ill.
- For children aged 5-11 who are unvaccinated and have returned from international travel in the past 14 days, even if they are exempt from federal self-isolation requirements. Please see federal travel requirements for more information.
- In some settings, like long-term care homes and retirement homes. Please refer to the guidance document for your workplace’s sector to know whether masks are still required.
- In individual businesses that opt to take additional precautions.
Children younger than 2 are exempt from masking requirements.
Signage about these requirements is available here. Businesses may choose to post these signs. Masks required English French.
There are many reasons to wear a mask. Be COVID kind to others—they may make different decisions from you. THU has created posters to encourage people to be COVID kind and to provide information about who is required to wear a mask. They can be used in businesses and workplaces, schools, childcare, and other settings.
Poster: There are many reasons to wear a mask. Be COVID kind. English short version | English long version | French short version | French long version.
What are PPE requirements for workers?
Please click here for details about PPE requirements for workers.
What kind of mask offers the best protection?
In general, respirators and medical masks provide better protection than non-medical or cloth masks.
Masks should cover your mouth, nose, and chin. There should be no gaps between your face and the mask. A well-fitting mask will help trap COVID-19 and protects people around you. Bandanas, scarves, and neck warmers are not considered masks.
How should my mask fit?
No matter which type of mask you choose, proper fit is a key factor in its effectiveness. Make sure your mask completely covers your nose, mouth, and chin. Check for gaps between your face and your mask along the top, sides, and bottom. Check for air leaks and adjust if necessary. Make sure your mask is snug and has no gaps.
For more information about mask fit and adjustment, click here.
What do I need to know about respirators?
Respirators include N-95 and KN-95. They meet filtration standards and provide the best fit and filtration when they are properly fitted. Non-fit tested respirators can be used as high quality masks in the community. Respirators with exhalation valves should not be used. Snip the ear loops before throwing them out to prevent animals from getting caught in them.
What do I need to know about medical masks?
Medical masks can provide good fit and filtration, meet filtration standards, and can be adjusted. Snip the ear loops before throwing them out to prevent animals from getting caught in them.
Medical masks or respirators are recommended for:
- anyone who has tested positive for or has symptoms of COVID-19
- people caring for someone who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19
- people who are at risk of more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19
- people who are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 because of their living situation
What do I need to know about fabric masks?
There’s currently no required standard for non-medical masks sold in Canada. Cloth masks should have multiple layers, including 3 layers of breathable tightly woven fabric, such as cotton.
Cloth masks, like underwear, should be washed regularly. Wash your
fabric mask when it becomes damp or dirty. Cloth masks can be washed
with regular laundry. Warm or hot water is best if possible, and tumble
or hang to dry fully.
What do I need to know about face shields?
A face shield is considered eye protection. It is not a substitute for wearing a mask because it doesn’t filter respiratory droplets. Droplets can be inhaled around the shield, or you can spread them to others. If you wear a face shield, we recommend that you also wear a mask if possible. For those who can’t wear a mask, a face shield is considered a “better than nothing” option. A face shield should extend below the chin and cover the sides of the face.
How should I put on and take off my mask?
Before and after handling your mask, always wash your hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with minimum alcohol concentration of 60%. You should wash your hands before and after you put your mask on, take it off, or adjust it. Only touch the ear loops of the mask.
Avoid touching or moving the mask around when using it. Replace the mask as soon as it becomes damp, dirty, or damaged.