Public Settings – Safe Reopening During COVID-19

As more businesses, services and activities resume, the need to continue taking COVID-19 precautions is important. Read on for specific reopening guidelines/rules for different public settings and situations. Please note that the Health Unit has also put in place instructions on the use of non-medical masks or face coverings inside public places.

If you have further questions, contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006, or email info@hkpr.on.ca .

On This Page

Click on links below to easily access content for each public setting:

Community Centres
  • These facilities are for sports and recreational activities, including gyms and fitness studios
  • Physical distancing must be maintained, except if playing a team sport or as needed for personal training
  • Limits are in place on the number of people allowed in areas containing weights or exercise machines. The number is limited to a total that will allow for safe physical distancing of at least 2-metres at all times.
  • The same limit that allows for safe physical distancing applies to fitness classes and organized activities. It’s strongly recommended to assign spaces to class participants by marking circles on the floor to indicate where to stand/exercise
  • Currently, Ontario is limiting large gatherings of people. Indoor gatherings of no more than 50 people are allowed. The limit on outdoor gatherings is 100 people. Gathering limits do not apply in all other areas (E.g. pools, tennis courts and rinks).
  • Equipment must be cleaned and disinfected between users or at the end of a game.
  • Washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or other amenities open to the public must be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
  • Community rooms at these facilities are subject to the same physical distancing measure and gathering limits as noted above. In addition:
    • Table games/activities that do not allow for a safe 2-metre (6 foot) distance are not allowed
    • Communal kitchens and interior dining spaces in a community centre stay closed
    • Food concession stands may open
  • When it comes to the use of non-medical masks or face coverings:
    • Patrons and staff must wear masks in all public areas and any location in which they interact with others
    • Masks are not required to be worn outside, or while exercising or swimming.
  • For specific fact sheets on restarting sports and recreation programs, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or email info@hkpr.on.ca
Day Camps
Pools, Splash Pads and Wading Pools
  • Locker rooms, change rooms, showers and washrooms must be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as necessary to maintain a safe and sanitary environment
  • Access is not allowed to high-touch features such as pool slides, diving boards and climbing structures (only exception is ladders)
  • A pool, splash pad, spray pad, wading pool or whirlpool must comply with physical distancing requirements. This includes: operating with a reduced capacity or activity enrolment, and operating by appointment or timed entry
  • Equipment provided or rented to patrons must be cleaned and disinfected after each use
  • Steam rooms and saunas are not allowed to open at this time
  • When it comes to the use of non-medical masks or face coverings:
    • Patrons and staff must wear masks in all public areas and any location in which they interact with others
    • Masks are not required to be worn outside, or while exercising or swimming.
Playgrounds and Play Structures
  • Outdoor playgrounds and play structures can now open. There are no recommendations for extra cleaning or disinfecting of these structures. Anyone who uses playground equipment is encouraged to wash hands with soap and water or perform hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand sanitizer after playing on them. Always stay home if you are sick.
  • For indoor playgrounds and play structures:
    • Physical distancing of at least 2-metres (6 feet) must be in place at all indoor facilities, except if individuals are in the same household or social circle.
    • Gathering limits of no more than 50 people must be followed at these indoor facilities.
  • When it comes to the use of non-medical masks or face coverings:
    • Patrons and staff must wear masks in all public areas and any location in which they interact with others
    • Masks are not required to be worn outside
Team Sports/Live Sporting Events
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports is not allowed.
  • Team sports (like wrestling, judo) in which body contact is common or integral are not yet permitted, unless measures are in place to prevent prolonged or deliberate physical contact
  • Amateur and recreational sports leagues may resume as long as they do not allow prolonged or deliberate physical contact between players OR if measures are in place to avoid physical contact between players
  • Leagues can have no more than 50 participants in total. If a league goes over this limit, it may divide into smaller groups of no more than 50. Currently, players are not allowed to compete against others outside of their league/group.
  • Spectators at indoor sporting events (including professional sports) are limited to 50 people, while a maximum of 100 people are allowed at outdoor events (these totals do not include players or event participants). Physical distancing measures must be in place, with assigned seating where possible
  • When it comes to the use of non-medical masks or face coverings:
    • Patrons and staff must wear masks in all public areas and any location in which they interact with others
    • Masks are not required to be worn outside, or while exercising.
  • For specific fact sheets on restarting sports and recreation programs, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or email info@hkpr.on.ca
Restaurant/Bars
  • Restaurants, bars, food trucks, concession stands, and other food/drink establishments may open for dine-in eating. No buffet-style service may be provided. Patrons must be seated when eating or drinking.
  • Capacity limits for dine-in eating are based on the ability of patrons to maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) from others. Establishments must take appropriate measures to ensure a 2-metre distance between tables (unless they are separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier)
  • Nightclubs are not allowed to open, except to serve food or drinks to patrons (must follow same rules that apply to restaurants/bars).
  • Singing or music may be performed by a person or group at the restaurant/bar with restrictions, such as physical distancing measures and barriers being put up between performers and patron.  Dancing may only be performed by someone working at the establishment with restrictions.
  • Physical distancing of 2-metres between patrons from different households or social circles also applies to food trucks, food courts, concession stands and tours (including tasting at wineries, breweries and distilleries)
  • For outdoor patios or dining areas, seating must be configured to allow at least 2-metres distance between tables. Patrons do not need to wear non-medical masks on patios.
  • Restaurants and bars must keep client logs (name and contact information) for every patron who frequents the business over the past 30 days. This information must be provided to the Health Unit for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes.
  • When it comes to the use of non-medical masks or face coverings in restaurants/bars:
    • Patrons who come for dine-in eating must wear a mask upon entering and exiting the premises. Masks also need to be worn if they get up for anything during their meal (including using the washroom). Masks are not required when seated at a table
    • Restaurant servers who interact with customers must wear masks.
Live Shows, Performing Arts and Movie Theatres
  • Spectators at indoor events (like concerts and theatrical performances) are limited to 50 people, while a maximum of 100 people are allowed at outdoor events. Physical distancing measures must be in place, with assigned seating where possible. (NOTE: Employees/performers are not included in the crowd size)
  • Drive-through and drive-in venues are not subject to gathering limits.
  • Provide hand sanitizer in key areas like lobby.
  • Singers and brass/wind instrument players must be separated from any spectators by plexiglass or another impermeable barrier.
  • Every performer or employees of the performing arts centre/theatre must maintain a physical distance of at least 2-metres from every other person, except for:
    • Performances and rehearsals
    • The purchase of tickets/admission, food or beverages
    • Health and safety reasons
  • When it comes to the use of non-medical masks or face coverings:
    • Patrons and staff must wear masks in all public areas and any location in which they interact with others
    • Masks are not required to be worn outside
  • Movie theatres should stagger showtimes, encourage online purchases to reduce cash transactions, encourage guests to only arrive 15 minutes prior to the movie, remove/close off equipment and furniture to reduce loitering, and increase cleaning/disinfecting of high-touch surfaces.
Seniors Halls
  • Indoor gathering limits are limited to 50 people, while outdoor gatherings are capped at 100 people (employees not included).
  • Physical distancing must be in place.
  • No table games (e.g. cards, etc.) are allowed.
  • Ensure equipment (e.g. darts, etc.) is properly cleaned and disinfected between each use. Activities must not be practised or played if they require the use of fixed structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each use.
  • Put up posters encouraging handwashing
  • Post screening signage at entrances.
Weddings
  • Indoor weddings are limited to 50 people, while a maximum of 100 people is allowed at outdoor weddings. NOTE: These crowd limits apply if a wedding is held at a private home. If a wedding is held in a public hall, building or structure, the gathering must not exceed 30% of the capacity of the particular room
  • All wedding attendees must follow 2-metre physical distancing rules.
  • No buffet-style dinner is allowed. Guests must be seated when eating or drinking. Seating must be configured so that guests at different tables are separated by: a distance of 2 metres OR plexiglass or another impermeable barrier.
  • No one is allowed to dance, sing or perform music except if they are a hired performer, musician or entertainer. To perform, they must:
    • Be separated from guests and other performers by plexiglass or another impermeable barrier while singing or performing on a brass/wind instrument
    • Maintain a physical distance of at least 2-meters from every other person while singing or performing music
    • Clean and disinfect equipment used while singing or performing music between each use.
  • There is one exception to the dancing rule: a first dance is allowed for the bride and groom and their parents
  • Singing is not allowed during the wedding service.
  • When it comes to the use of non-medical masks or face coverings at weddings:
    • Guests must wear a non-medical mask upon entering/exiting the venue. Masks can be removed when seated.
    • Guests who need to get up for anything during the service or meal (such as going to the washroom) must re-mask.
    • The bride and groom are not required to wear a mask during wedding vows. The officiant (priest/minister) is not required to wear a mask if he/she maintains 2-metre physical distance
    • Guest are not required to wear mask outdoors if they can maintain a 2-metre physical distance
    • Servers who interact with guests must wear masks.

COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 is a serious health threat. It’s essential to take steps to slow the spread, especially to protect everyone from the virus. Click on these links for information and resources to help you stay safe!

For additional information, contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or email info@hkpr.on.ca.


On This Page

About COVID-19

Get Tested for COVID-19

Preventing COVID-19 at Home

Preventing COVID-19 at Work

Preventing COVID-19 in the Community

Mask Use During COVID-19

Additional Resources:

211 Community Support – Easily find/search government and community-based services during COVID-19.  Call or text 2-1-1 day or night to find support for all of life’s challenges. Live Chat also available Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 pm


Stay Connected

You can find and follow updates on COVID-19 in your local community via the following HKPR resources:

Use of Non-Medical Masks and Face Coverings Within Indoor Public Spaces

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is updating its original instruction from July 13 on the use of non-medical masks or face coverings in indoor public spaces in the area. These updated instructions take effect at 12:01 am on July 17, 2020, and include most commercial establishments/services and indoor public places in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

The revised instructions have been updated under the authority of the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act and apply to all persons responsible for operating a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public currently permitted to operate under Ontario Regulation 263/20 – Rules for Areas in Stage 2 and Ontario Regulation 364/20 – Rules for Areas in Stage 3. The aim of the directive is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in this region.

For more details, please read the Health Unit’s updated Fact Sheet on Required Use of Non-Medical Masks and Face Coverings Within Indoor Public Spaces. You can also view additional FAQs below, as well as posters, policy and resources to assist you with compliance.

Please Note: This order applies to non-medical masks and face coverings. Medical masks are different and must only be used by health care workers.


Who is Affected?

If you own, operate or are responsible for a business or facility that is indoors and open to the public and currently operating under Stage 3 of the provincial Framework for reopening, you must have policies in place to inform people about the need to wear a mask or face covering before entering your establishment. Certain exemptions do apply on the use of masks in these indoor settings.

The Health Unit’s updated instructions apply to any places of business or facilities that are indoors and open to the public and used for the purposes of offering goods or services for sale or use. These establishments include: a mall or other structure containing commercial premises, and currently include the following:

  • Retail stores, convenience stores, malls/plazas, restaurants, personal service settings, grocery stores and bakeries, gas stations, indoor farmers’ markets, areas of mechanics’ shops/garages/repair shops, which are open to the public

Other indoor public places are also covered by this order, including: 

  • Churches/places of worship, public libraries, real estate open houses, personal care services (relating to the hair or body), food courts, fitting rooms, driving instruction services, sports and recreation facilities (like gyms, yoga/dance studios, and fitness facilities), children’s camps, movie theatres, performing arts centres, casinos/bingo halls/gaming establishments, and racing venues, cultural centres (museums, art galleries, etc.).

What establishments are NOT included in this instruction?

Establishments that do not fall under the definition of a commercial establishment are: 

  • Schools, child care centres, business offices that are not open to members of the public, professional offices where clients receive purchased services (e.g., lawyers’ offices) that are not open to members of the public, hospitals, independent health facilities, offices of regulated health professionals.

Are churches/places of worship covered under these updated instructions?

Yes, churches or places of worship are now included in the updated instructions for requiring mask use. Attendees to religious services/rites or ceremonies must wear masks until seated, with a secured physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others. For additional directions on mask use and COVID-19 prevention measures in places of worship, click here.

Why is this instruction on masks being updated (on July 17) so soon after it took effect (on July 13)?

With the move to Stage 3 on July 17, more businesses and services are reopening in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. The Health Unit’s revised instructions are meant to provide additional clarity and direction for mask use in these newly-opened establishments.

Wearing non-medical masks or face coverings inside public places is another way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in this area. As we move into Stage 3 reopening and more businesses and public spaces open and people increase their contacts, the risk of a rapid rise in infections and outbreaks is ever-present. Although the number of cases of COVID-19 in the Health Unit area is declining, the risk of ongoing spread remains as the reopening process continues.

Increasing scientific evidence supports wearing a mask when in enclosed public spaces as an important measure in reducing COVID-19 transmission, while the risk of rising rates of infection continues. Together with physical distancing, hand and cough hygiene, and staying home when ill, the use of a non-medical mask or face covering in a commercial establishment is an additional public health measure that may help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

What areas of a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public are subject to the non-medical mask and face covering requirements?

  • Any areas in which customers interact with one another or with staff members

OR

  • Any areas that are open or accessible to members of the public

Except where: The area is outside, whether or not the area is covered (e.g. a restaurant patio)

Are there exemptions on the use of non-medical masks and face coverings in certain settings (E.g. restaurants, sports/recreational facilities, places of worship, etc.)?

Non-medical masks and face coverings must be worn in most indoor places and situations. Generally, this applies when patrons/customers are ‘roaming’ around inside the business/facility and are not yet ‘in place’ (i.e. seated) with a secured distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others. The only exceptions to mask use in indoor public spaces are in following instances:

  • In restaurants/food courts, patrons eating inside must wear a mask until seated. Masks must be worn upon entry and exit, and if patrons get up to walk around the restaurant (including to use the washroom). Patrons eating on an outdoor patio do not need to wear masks.
  • In sports and recreation facilities (like gyms and fitness clubs), masks must be worn at all times  in change rooms, washrooms and waiting areas. The only exception is when people take part in a specific activity or sport.  
  • In cinemas/movie theatres, performing arts centres, and casinos/bingo halls/gaming establishments, people must wear masks in all public spaces. The only exception is when patrons are seated with a secured physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others.
  • For indoor weddings, funeral services or religious services/rites or ceremonies, attendees must wear masks until seated with a secured physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others.

What happens if patrons don’t wear a mask?

People who are responsible for a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public and currently operating during Stage 3 should have a policy to ensure public is informed of the requirement to wear a mask or face covering that covers their nose, mouth and chin when entering or remaining in an indoor public space.

People in an enclosed public space who remove their mask for extended periods of time, will receive a verbal reminder of the requirement to wear a mask under these instructions.

Who is exempt from this instruction?

The following people are exempt from the instruction to wear a mask while inside a commercial establishment. Please note: a person refers to any customer, patron, employee, or visitor who enters the premises:

  • The Person is a child under the age of two years; or a child under the age of 5 years either chronologically or developmentally and he or she refuses to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver
  • The Person is unable to remove their mask without assistance
  • For any other medical reason, the Person cannot safely wear a non-medical mask or face covering such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information
  • For any religious reason, the Person cannot wear a non-medical mask or face covering or cannot cover the face in a manner that would properly control the source.

Do I have to disclose my medical condition if I don’t wear a mask?

No one is required to disclose a medical condition or reason why they are exempt from wearing a mask. All a person has to say is that: “I am not able to wear a mask.”

People who are responsible for a place of business/facility that is indoors and open to the public should respect this answer. For privacy reasons, owners/operators are not allowed to ask specifics on why someone cannot wear a mask. All that owners/operators are required to do is make patrons and members of the public aware of the mask use requirement.

It is recognized there are a variety of reasons why a person cannot wear a mask and people are asked to continue to be kind to each other and support everyone in the community as we work together to stop the spread of the virus. 

The requirement to have people wear masks within a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public is not meant to stigmatize people who are unable to wear a mask due to medical reasons or their age.

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask.

Why can’t mask use be a voluntary decision?

Although there has been information and messaging shared on the public health benefits of wearing a mask when physical distancing is a challenge, many people will still not wear a mask. Many of the people who are now testing positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic and do not realize they are ill. If they do not wear a mask in public, they can easily spread the virus to other, more vulnerable people within the community.

These instructions to wear a mask within a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public are meant to serve as a reminder to everyone who can wear a mask, that they should be doing so to help protect others.

Where can I find a mask if I can’t afford to buy one?

We are working with our community partners to connect people in need with masks. People can call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, to learn more about accessing a mask. Another option is to use what you have at home – if someone cannot afford a non-medical mask, they are requested to use a bandana or scarf as a face covering.

Are places of business or facilities that are indoors and open to the public required to purchase masks or have them on hand for customers?

No, under the instructions issued by the Health Unit, places of business or facilities that are indoors and open to the public are not required to provide non-medical masks or face coverings to customers. If a customer does not have a non-medical mask, they can wear other face coverings, including a bandana or scarf.

How is this being enforced?

Every owner/operator of a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public will have a policy requiring members of the public wear a mask or face covering when entering public areas of the enclosed public space.

Employees and operators will provide a verbal reminder to any customer entering the premises without a mask that the customer should be wearing a mask as a result of this directive.

Implementation of the policy will be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and will be primarily used as a means to educate people on mask use in public spaces. 

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask.

Public Health Inspectors from the HKPR District Health Unit, as well as municipal bylaw and local police officers will be involved in providing additional education and enforcement to operators of commercial establishments.

What are the fines?

As per the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, those who do not comply with the above noted requirements may be liable for a fine of $750 – $1,000 for an individual owner/operator of a commercial establishment, to a maximum of $100,000 or in the case of a corporation, not more than $10,000,000 for each day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.

Are both businesses and customers subject to fines?

As noted above, implementation of the policy will be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and will be primarily used as a means to educate people on mask use in public spaces.

As per the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, those businesses that do not comply with the instructions may be liable for a fine of $750 to $1,000 for an individual, to a maximum of $100,000, or in the case of a corporation, not more than $10,000,000 for each day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.

What would be the best way for store owners to address the issue if patrons don’t have or refuse to wear a mask for both reasons that are legitimate and those that are not?

People who are responsible for a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public are asked to use their “best effort” to ensure patrons and members of the public wear a mask while in the commercial premise. This means offering a verbal reminder to the patron that mask use is required within the establishment or a verbal reminder about mask use if the person removes the mask while in the premise. 

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask.

For privacy reasons, if you are someone who is responsible for a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public, you cannot ask patrons the reasons they cannot wear a mask. All you are required to do is make patrons and members of the public aware of the mask use requirement.

Do people need to wear masks when on a restaurant patio? Do the servers need to wear masks?

No, customers do not need to wear a mask while on a restaurant patio as this is outside and is an exception to the instructions issued by the Health Unit. Servers who are interacting with the customers in the commercial establishment are required to wear face masks.

Do people need to wear a mask while at a hotel or bed and breakfast?

Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts offer services and would be considered commercial. This would be limited to areas that the hotels/B&Bs interact with the public, like the reception area, but not in private rooms or during outdoor dining. Masks are also not required when swimming in an indoor or outdoor public pool or using a public spa.

Is it mandatory that employees working in retail stores are required to wear masks?

Yes, while in areas that are servicing the public.

Are staff and customers still required to wear a mask if there is a plexiglass barrier between them?

Yes, a barrier is not sufficient to stop the droplet transmission of the virus. When both parties are wearing a mask, it protects both the staff and the customer from the potential spread of the virus.

Can I remove my mask or face covering if physical distancing is not a concern in the establishment or enclosed public space I am visiting?

Members of the public are permitted to temporarily remove a mask for the following reasons:

  • Receiving services (including eating or drinking when dine-in services are allowed), 

OR

  • While actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity including water-based activities.

Ensure you wash your hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after removing your mask or face covering.

What should store owners and staff do if a customer does not/cannot wear a mask?

Owners/operators and staff of commercial establishments are asked to use their “best effort” to ensure patrons and members of the public wear a mask while in the commercial premise. This means offering a verbal reminder to the patron that mask use is required within the establishment or a verbal reminder about mask use if the person removes the mask while in the premise.

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask.

I work in a hot commercial kitchen/warehouse. Do I need to wear a mask?

If you work in a commercial establishment, a mask should be worn when interacting with the members of the public inside. You are not required to wear a mask if you do not interact or serve members of the public, but it is still recommended that you wear a mask if you cannot maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from a co-worker.

Who do I call if I want to report a business not requiring customers to wear a mask?

To report a non-complying business, or for more information on the Health Unit’s instructions to places of business or facilities that are indoors and open to the public to require the use of masks by patrons, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.

Can a person be refused service for not wearing a non-medical mask or face covering?

The implementation of the policy should be enforced in “good faith” and any person not wearing a mask will receive a verbal reminder from the staff of the establishment.

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask.

Where is the science/proof that masks work?

COVID-19 is a new virus and we are continuing to learn more about the virus, how it affects people and how it is spread. Evidence is showing that wearing a mask, together with staying home when sick, physical distancing, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and covering coughs and sneezes is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus.

Here is a paper from Public Health Ontario on the scientific evidence known at this point about masks.

Why was this not done in March when the pandemic started? Why now?

Although we have seen a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in our area, we want to be sure we continue to see a decrease as we move towards the reopening of more businesses within the province. This is even more true as we enter Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan. 

The risk for the ongoing spread of the virus remains as the process of reopening continues throughout the province. The use of non-medical masks or face coverings in public places, along with continued handwashing, physical distancing and staying home if sick, are some of the best public health measures to protect us from the virus.

How do I choose a non-medical mask or face covering?

In choosing a non-medical mask, ensure it is:

  • Made of 2+ layers of tightly woven fabric (such as cotton or linen)
  • Well-fitted with ear loops or ties
  • A comfortable fit against your face and allows you to breathe easily without having to adjust it
  • Large enough to completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping
  • Durable to allow you to frequently wash and dry it without losing its shape

Other options for non-medical masks include wearing a bandana or scarf, or making one out of a T-shirt or a bandana. The Public Health Agency of Canada also offers instructions on how to make a homemade face coverings.

Are face shields allowed?

A face shield is not a substitute for wearing a face mask as it does not filter respiratory droplets. A face shield may provide additional protection for the wearer against droplets expelled from another person, however these droplets may still be inhaled around the shield. Respiratory droplets expelled by the wearer may escape around the sides of the face shield, which therefore provides less protection to others. If you choose to wear a face shield, we recommend – if possible – to wear it in addition to a properly fitted cloth masks.

If I can’t wear a mask, can I wear a face shield?

A face shield would not be considered an equal substitute for a face mask as it does not provide filtering capacity. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of face shields as a “better than nothing” alternative to face masks if there is a shortage of non-medical masks or for populations who are not able to properly wear non-medical masks, such as individuals with a respiratory condition that prevents them from wearing a mask. The WHO makes note that face shields are inferior to face masks at preventing the spread of an infection through droplets and at a minimum should extend below the chin and cover the sides of the face. 

How to Properly Use a Non-Medical Mask or Face Covering

  • Wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (use good hand hygiene while wearing it too)
  • Masks should fit snugly, but comfortably against your face (non-gaping) allowing you to breathe without restriction. Masks should be secured with ties or ear loops and have multiple fabric layers
  • Do not share cloth masks with others
  • Remember not to touch or rub your eyes while wearing it
  • Avoid moving, adjusting or touching your mask while using it, as it could become contaminated on the outside.
  • Change face coverings if they get slightly wet or dirty
  • Wash the cloth mask after each use as it can get damp or dirty:
  • Put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then disposed of
  • Cloth masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle, and then dried thoroughly.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after putting the mask into the laundry.
  • Homemade masks that cannot be washed should be thrown out in a properly lined garbage bin as soon as they get damp, dirty or crumpled. Do not throw used masks on the ground or in a shopping cart. Immediately after wash your hands with soap and water.

Watch this How to Use a Cloth Mask Video for additional tips. 


Additional Resources

Posters For Businesses/Commercial Establishments

Sample Policy For Businesses – Mask Use in Commercial Establishments

How to Use/Wear a Cloth Mask Video – HKPR District Health Unit Video

COVID Alert Tracing App

A free, easy and safe-to-use app is now available to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The federal and Ontario governments have teamed up to develop the new COVID Alert app that can be downloaded to your smartphone.

The COVID Alert app will:

  • Notify you if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19
  • Offer advice on what to do next
  • Let others who have been in close contact with you know if you test positive for the virus (without sharing personal information).

The app does not collect personal information or health data, and does not know or track the location, name, address, or contacts of any user.

The more people who download COVID Alert, the more effective it is. The app can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by more quickly identifying potential new cases and contacts.

To download or learn more, visit:

For more information about COVID Alert, contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or email: info@hkpr.on.ca.

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