Listowel Banner Local News News Walkerton Herald-Times Wingham Advance Times

Ministry of Health recommends wearing face coverings when physical distancing is difficult

TORONTO — Health experts in Ontario are now recommending people wear face coverings as the province’s economy begins to reopen.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, and other experts have advised people to wash their hands often, stay home if feeling unwell, and practising physical distancing from anyone outside their household.

Now that the economy has begun to reopen, these experts are now recommending wearing a face covering when physical distancing is not possible, such as in a small store or on public transit.

On May 20, the Ministry of Health released recommendations on how to choose, wear and care for appropriate face coverings:

  • Wear your face covering safely and snugly to cover your nose and mouth, without any gaps. Ensure your face covering is made of at least two layers of tightly woven material and can be cleaned multiple times without losing its shape.
  • Medical masks, such as surgical and N95 masks, should be reserved for use by health care workers, those providing direct care, first responders and individuals who are ill and must leave their home for essential reasons such as seeking medical care, picking up medication or groceries.
  • Face coverings should not be placed on or used by children under the age of two; anyone who has trouble breathing; and anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance.

“If you need a face covering, it is critically important people wear one that is appropriate for the situation,” said minister of health Christine Elliott.

“We need to reserve all of the medical masks to protect our frontline health care workers, first responders and people who are ill.”

Health experts also suggested that workers and employers may want to consider using face coverings, in addition to the mandatory occupational health and safety measures.

“Now that we are in Stage 1 of our Framework for Reopening the Province, more people will be returning to workplaces, going to stores and parks, and using public transit,” said Premier Doug Ford.

“I strongly urge everyone to continue following the public health advice, such as physical distancing and restricting gatherings to five people or less. Although we are making progress, COVID-19 is still a risk that we must guard against. Please stay safe and protect yourself and others.”