Face Coverings FAQs and Section 22 Order

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated September 15, 2020.

Who

What

Where

When

Why

How

Hand Sanitizer

 

Who

Who is required to wear a face covering under this order?

Any customer, patron, employee or visitor, who enters the establishment.

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Who should not wear a face covering?

  • Children under the age of two years.
  • Children under the age of five years (either chronologically or developmentally) who refuse to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver.
  • People whose ability to breathe in any way is inhibited by the face covering.
  • People that have any other medical reason they cannot wear a face covering safely, such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information.

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Are employees of a commercial establishment required to wear a face covering?

Yes, employees are covered under the order. Employees are required to wear a face covering in areas in which customers interact with one another or with staff members or in any areas that are open or accessible to members of the public, such as:

  • retail floor/aisles;
  • cashier area/queues;
  • service desks/counters;
  • publicly accessible washrooms.

Workplaces may have other safety measures in place like plexiglass barriers, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and physical distancing, but employees are still required to wear face coverings when other safety measures are in place.

Employees are not required to wear a face covering in areas not accessible to the public such as, staff lounge areas, stock/storage rooms, workshop/service rooms, private offices, shipping/receiving areas, outdoor patio/display areas of a retail location (e.g., outdoor garden centres). 

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Who is providing the face coverings?

Establishments may choose to have disposable masks available for the public, but it’s not a requirement. Visitors of a commercial establishment must supply their own face covering.

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What

What type of face coverings should be worn? 

Face coverings do not have to be fancy or expensive but must cover the mouth, nose and chin and provide a barrier that limits the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets and can include:

  • a medical mask (while medical masks count as face coverings in this order, Public Health recommends that they be saved for health care workers and that members of the public wear non-medical face coverings),
  • a non-medical mask (cloth, homemade etc.),
  • or other face coverings such as a bandana, a scarf or cloth.

Masks with exhalation valves/vents and mouth shields should NOT be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others. Face coverings that provide a barrier that limits the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets should be worn. 

You may choose to make your own face covering and can follow these online instructions on how to make Homemade Cloth Face Coverings.

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What about face shields?

Face shields do not provide full coverage of the mouth, nose and chin, so do not contain respiratory droplets like a face covering. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that they “do not recommend use of face shields as a substitute for cloth face coverings”. The CDC also states “if face shields are used without a mask, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.” However, for those who cannot wear a face covering safely or who are exempt, a face shield may be better than no face covering.

Are clear plastic mouth shields, masks with valves or sporty neck gaiters/tubes appropriate to wear as face coverings? 

Images of mask types that are suitable or not, as mentioned in the web text.We have had a lot of questions about clear plastic mouth shields and other face covering options.

Mouth shields are NOT a suitable face covering option as they do not fit snugly around the mouth, nose and chin. Mouth shields allow infectious respiratory droplets to spread outside the mask, and do not help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks with valves are also not suitable for this reason.

Cloth or fabric face coverings should have 2-3 layers of tightly woven material. If you choose to wear a neck gaiter/tube style, be sure it has at least two layers of fabric. If you choose to wear a bandana, be sure to fold/tie it so there are at least two layers of fabric covering the mouth and nose and secure it snugly to the face.

Wearing the recommended types of face coverings in schools and in the community can help us protect each other from the spread of COVID-19.

Remember, non-medical masks or face coverings should:
✅ be made of at least 2 layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen)
✅ be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping
✅ allow for easy breathing
✅ fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
✅ maintain their shape after washing and drying
✅ be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment

The image attached shows are few examples of face coverings and masks. These images are not the only types of coverings available. Be sure to follow the above recommendations when choosing an appropriate face covering. Right click on the image and select “view image” to see full size version.

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In what situations can I remove my face covering?

A face covering must be worn inside the establishment at all times, unless it is reasonably required to temporarily remove it for services provided by the establishment including:

  • While eating or drinking;
  • While participating in a religious rite that involves eating or drinking or otherwise reasonably requires the removal of the mask;
  • While exercising or participating in an activity that requires physical exertion; an
  • While participating in an activity where a face covering may become wet.

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What type of proof is required for an exemption?

No proof is required for an exemption and Public Health is not asking businesses to check or require documentation. The order states “owners and operators shall not require employees or members of the public to provide proof that they qualify for any of the exemptions.” The exemptions listed in the order are there to ensure that people who cannot wear a face covering are still able to access commercial establishments.

Our expectation is that individuals who self-identify as meeting an exemption should be allowed into the establishment, without requiring any documentation.

“Mask exemption cards” circulating in the community are not real and not needed.

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What is a Section 22 Class Order?

Under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, a medical officer of health can issue an order to “require a person to take or to refrain from taking any action in respect of a communicable disease.” The full section 22 Class Order issued by Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health, can be found here.

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Where

Where am I required to wear a face covering?

A face covering is required when entering and while on the premises of any commercial establishment (this means “mean those portions of a fixed commercial premises or other premises that are openly accessible to members of the public and that are used for the purposes of offering goods or services (including religious services) to members of the public”) in the WDG region.

This includes:

  • Any areas in which customers interact with one another or with staff members;
  • Any areas that are open or accessible to members of the public (except in areas outside, whether or not the outdoor area is covered, such as a restaurant patio)

A face covering is required in private commercial vehicles as of September 18, 2020. This mean “a vehicle used for provision of commercial transportation services to members of the general public (bus/taxi/limo/ride share) but does not include a vehicle that is owned or operated by a governmental authority”. Vehicles operated by a government authority may have their own face covering requirements, be sure to check with the transportation authority before travel.

Examples of where a face covering is required under the class order can be found in the class order under Definitions and Scope of the Order.

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Where are face coverings not required under this order?

The use of face coverings is recommended for the health and safety of all customers, patrons, employees or visitors, in situations where physical distancing (spatial separation of individuals by at least two metres) is difficult to maintain. However, there are settings not subject to the order, even if they would otherwise fall within the definition of a commercial establishment.

Important: Some of the following establishments require face coverings under separate provincial guidance, regulatory college guidance or are multijurisdictional - be sure to check and follow the face covering requirements as outlined by each setting’s requirements. 

Examples of where a face covering is not required under the class order include:

  • Day camps;
  • Day care centres;
  • Schools;
  • Libraries;
  • Community centres;
  • Offices that are not open to members of the public;
  • Professional offices where clients receive purchased services (e.g. lawyer’s/accountant’s office) that are not open to members of the public;
  • Public transportation (bus/train);
  • Hospitals;
  • Independent health facilities; and
  • Offices of regulated health professionals.

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Can establishments determine their own mandatory face covering policies outside of this order?

Establishments can determine their own policies in addition to this order if they so choose. Since there are people who cannot use face coverings, appropriate and reasonable exemptions should be provided by the business.

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When

When was the order put into effect and for how long?

The order is in effect from 12:01 a.m. on September 18, 2020 until rescinded by the Medical Officer of Health.

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Why

Why make face coverings mandatory now?

COVID-19 is still in our communities and in Ontario. As we move into Stage 3 of reopening, and as Ontarians are expanding their bubbles, gathering in larger numbers and going to more establishments, physical distancing becomes more difficult and person-to-person transmission is more likely. Wearing a face covering when in public spaces protects others from your respiratory droplets, but it is still important to physical distance as much as possible, keep washing your hands often and to avoid touching your face. If everyone does their part, we can keep opening the province and our region safely.

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Why are face coverings a safe and effective way to prevent COVID-19? 

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets can travel up to 2 metres (6 feet) so wearing a face covering that covers your mouth, nose, and chin will help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others or landing on surfaces.

Wearing a face covering when in public spaces protects others from your respiratory droplets. This is especially important in situations where physical distancing is often difficult or inconsistent such as commercial establishments .

The use of face coverings must be used in combination with good hand hygiene, not touching your face and physical distancing whenever possible.

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Why do I still need to stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from people if wearing a face covering?

Physical distancing should be practiced whenever possible because respiratory droplets can travel up to 2 metres (6 feet). Wearing a face covering is an important additional measure to protect others from droplets, expecially when physical distancing is not possible.

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How

Can the Medical Officer of Health order mandatory face coverings in WDG?

As the Medical Officer of Heath, Dr. Mercer has the authority and responsibility to stop the spread of infectious diseases in our community. Each Medical Officer of Health has authority under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to implement an order to protect our local community. These local measures complement the recommendations and orders from the province.

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How can establishments notify customers, patrons, employees or visitors about the order before they enter our establishment?

WDGPH has created a detailed section 22 class order poster for businesses to use at commercial establishments to alert any customer, patron, employee or visitor about the order. There is also a poster for businesses with simplified instructions. The poster is also available in French. 

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How will face covering requirements be enforced?

It is the responsibility of the owner or operator to ensure people do not enter without a face covering unless they indicate they are exempt. We have similar rules for other societal norms such as shirts, shoes and cigarettes.

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Hand Sanitizer

Who is required to use the hand sanitizer provided by establishments?

No one is required by the order to use hand sanitizer. The requirement under the order is for owners/operators to make it available.

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Is hand sanitizer safe for children?

According to the Canadian Paediatric Society:

  • Young children should only use hand sanitizer with adult supervision.
  • When using hand sanitizer on yourself or others including children, apply a dime-sized amount to dry hands. Rub hands together until completely dry.
  • Keep hand sanitizers out of reach of pets and children. Young children, especially toddlers, may be attracted by the pleasant smell and the brightly coloured bottles.
  • Make sure children do not put any hand sanitizer into their mouth. Ingesting even a small amount of hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning in children.
  • If you suspect your child has ingested hand sanitizer, call a Poison Control Centre immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to develop.
  • Watch to ensure children do not rub their eyes when their hands are wet with sanitizer.
  • As long as the hand sanitizer has been rubbed in until completely dry, it is safe for children to eat with their hands or lick their hands.

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