Ottawa Public Health is encouraging the use of non-medical masks and face coverings in our community. The following provides Members of Council an overview with respect to non-medical mask and face covering use that can be shared with residents. All of Ottawa Public Health’s information on masks can be found at ottawapublichealth.ca.
- Medical masks and N95 respirators should NOT be worn by healthy community members as they must be kept for health care workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.
- Wearing a non-medical mask or face covering is NOT a replacement for physical distancing, hand washing, and/or monitoring your health.
- Wearing non-medical mask or face covering may offer additional protection especially when physical distancing is difficult to maintain (e.g. in a grocery store, on the bus) and may help protect others around you.
- Non-medical masks may include:
- Those that are made from cloth (for example cotton);
- Those that have pockets to insert filters; and,
- Those used to cover other masks or respirators to prolong usage.
A non-medical mask should be worn If you are:
- Ill and are coughing or sneezing, please wear a non-medical mask to protect those around you from getting sick. This is very important if you go to an appointment, clinic, or a hospital. Do not go to other public places when you are sick, even if you are wearing a mask. If you are seeking medical care, an appropriate medical/surgical mask will be provided. Follow the instructions given to you in the health care setting about how to remove and store your non-medical mask.
- Visiting somewhere where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as the grocery store, pharmacy, or public transit., as is now suggested by OC Transpo;
- Are caring for someone who is ill; and,
- Are taking care of someone who is coughing or sneezing, particularly if they are unable to wear a mask,. Both the ill individual and the caregiver should wear a non-medical mask.
It is never appropriate to place a non-medical mask or facial covering on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. For further information on physical distancing and hand hygiene for children, please visit Ottawapublichealth.ca.
When wearing a cloth face covering, keep in mind:
- cloth face coverings do not block ALL the virus particles that are spread by others when coughing or sneezing;
- cloth face coverings should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of your face, allowing for safe breathing and that the covering that be secured with ties or ear loops.
- Cloth face coverings should be able to withstand frequent cycles of washing and drying machines.
When wearing a mask, take the following precautions to protect yourself and others:
- Wash your hands properly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after putting on a mask.
- Avoid touching the mask while wearing it.
- Make sure the mask fits well (no gaps) over your mouth and nose.
- Change the mask by only touching the straps or ear-loops as soon as it gets damp or soiled. Do not touch the front of the mask.
- Place the used mask directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then disposed of.
- Wash the cloth masks in the washing machine with other items using regular laundry detergent and a hot cycle, and then dry them thoroughly.
- If a non-medical mask cannot be washed, discard and replace it as soon as it gets damp, soiled, or crumpled. Dispose of masks properly in a garbage bin lined with a plastic bag. Do not leave discarded masks in shopping carts or on the ground. Do not place a used mask on any work surface, common area, or equipment because it could contaminate that surface.
- Do not share masks with others.
- Continue physical distancing and wash your hand often.
How to make a Non-Medical Mask
When it comes to making a non-medical mask, Health Canada has provided instructions for sew or no-sew options and has included the types of material best used to make the non-medical masks, such as cotton, t-shirts or bandanas. Here is a link to Health Canada’s website for instructions on how to make a non-medical mask.
- For individuals who are travelling, all air passengers are required to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel. For marine, rail or motor carrier/bus travel, travelers are encouraged to wear non-medical masks or face coverings whenever possible. For more information, visit: New measures introduced for non-medical masks or face coverings in the Canadian transportation system (Transport Canada).
Ottawa Public Health provides a list of local mask manufacturers. Vendors were identified via social media by Ottawa residents.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) does not endorse any particular vendor of material masks, nor can we ensure that any vendor is able to maintain stock of these products. We are not liable if there are any issues related to the vendor or the purchased product.
The vendors are listed with the intent of promoting the wearing of material masks in settings where physical distancing is not possible. If you are aware of other Ottawa-based or Canada-based vendors producing masks that are not currently listed, please let OPH know at firstname.lastname@example.org.