Masks

Protect Yourself and Others

Wearing a mask is strongly recommended for all residents

How to properly wear a mask

Current recommendation

Respiratory viruses like COVID-19, the flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) are spreading across our community. This puts us all at risk, especially vulnerable groups, like children, seniors and those with underlying medical conditions. Masks are not just a personal protection, but also a community one that protects each other.

Both Niagara Region Public Health and the province are strongly recommending all residents wear a mask in all indoor public settings (including schools and child care); especially around those most vulnerable to severe outcomes such as young children and older adults. Public Health also strongly recommends wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings. If possible, children between the ages of two and five should wear a mask with supervision if they can tolerate the mask and safely put it on and off.

How masks help prevent the spread of infection

After vaccination, masks are the best protection we have against COVID-19 and can also help prevent the spread of other respiratory viruses. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the effectiveness of face masks and that people who reported always wearing a mask in indoor public settings were less likely to test positive for COVID-19 than people who didn't.

Masks help protect not only the wearer but those around them by:

  • Blocking individuals from breathing in virus
  • Blocking an infected person from breathing virus out into the air

The higher the mask quality, the better protection against COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. Learn about the qualities of a good mask.

Mask wearing in children

Public Health Ontario did a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence on mask wearing in children and COVID-19. The results showed:

  • Masks help prevent infections in children
  • Masks are well-tolerated by children
  • There is no objective evidence of harms or negative consequences from masking in children
Parents / guardians can contact their child's school for free masks if they don't already have one.

Settings where masks are still required

Ontario requires masking in long-term care and retirement homes.

Scenarios where you should wear a mask

Wearing a mask is strongly recommended for all residents in all indoor public settings (including schools and childcare). Niagara Region Public Health also strongly recommends wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings.

If any one of these scenarios applies to you, it is especially important for you to wear a mask:

  • If someone had COVID-19 symptoms (regardless of a COVID-19 test result) and their self-isolation period is ending; that person should wear a mask when out in public (including in schools and child care) for 10 days from when their symptoms started or date of test (whichever is earlier / applicable)
  • If someone tests positive for COVID-19 but does not have any symptoms; that person should wear a mask for 10 days when out in public, including in schools and child care
  • If someone is a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 (household or non-household); that person should wear a mask for 10 days after their last exposure to them
  • If a staff member, child or visitor received their COVID-19 vaccine or flu shot in the last 48 hours and are experiencing mild fatigue / tiredness, muscle aches and / or joint pain that only began after vaccination; that person should wear a properly fitted mask for the entire time at school / child care while they're experiencing these symptoms. These are normal side effects that some people may have after their vaccine. Wearing a mask during the time you are experiencing these symptoms is an added precaution should this be the start of another respiratory illness (not related to the vaccine). It is important to remember that you cannot develop an infection from either the COVID-19 vaccine or the flu shot.

Workplace mask policies

Some businesses, organizations and health care settings may choose to continue masking policies as part of their ongoing operations. You will need to follow their masking policy.

Public Health supports masking policies since they prevent staffing disruptions, and keep workers and clients safe. Workplaces and businesses can learn more about masking policies and other ways to manage COVID-19.

How to properly wear and handle a mask

Making sure your mask fits properly is important so it can provide the best protection. No matter which type of mask you are using, proper fit is a key factor in its effectiveness. Learn how to make your mask fit properly.

There are also important things to remember while handling and wearing masks. These include to:

  • Clean your hands before putting a mask on and immediately after taking it off
  • Avoid touching the mask while you have it on and keep your hands away from your face. If you do touch your mask, clean your hands right away.
  • Do not wear a mask that is wet, dirty or damaged
  • Do not share or touch another persons mask

Learn more about how to choose, use and care for a mask.

Watch this video on how to store a reusable mask.

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