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

The Ontario government is now mandating the use of non-medical masks/face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces. Limited exemptions are in place, including for age, medical reasons, and special accommodations.

The provincial masking requirement is made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act (specifically 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 reduce the spread of COVID-19.

For more details, please read the the following FAQs and resources. You can also contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020 or info@hkpr.on.ca for additional direction.

If you have additional questions about mask use at your business or workplace, refer to your COVID-19 Safety Plan, consult with your Joint Health and Safety Committee, or contact the Ministry of Labour at 1-877-202-0008.


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 rules 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.

Most indoor settings are covered under the rules, including businesses, stores, malls/plazas, restaurants, 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.).

Long-term care homes and retirement homes also require masks to be worn by staff and essential visitors.

Are there places where masks/face coverings do not need to be worn?

The Ontario government is now mandating face coverings be worn across the province. This includes:

  • Public spaces (for example, inside stores, event spaces, entertainment facilities and common areas in hotels).
  • Workplaces, even those that are not open to the public.
  • Vehicles that operate as part of a business or organization, including taxis and rideshares.

According to the Province, establishments in which face coverings are not required are: correctional facilities; university dorms or other similar dwellings (except when you are in common areas and can’t maintain 2 metres from others); residences for people with developmental disabilities; and instances in which people are performing/rehearsing for a film/TV production, concert, artistic event or theatrical performance.

Masks can also be temporarily removed for:

  • Receiving services that require you to take it off (for example, going to the dentist).
  • Exercising in a gym/fitness centre
  • Eating or drinking at a restaurant
  • Health and safety purposes (as necessary)

Are churches/places of worship covered under the masking rules?

Yes, mask use is required in churches or places of worship. Attendees to religious services/rites or ceremonies must wear masks at all times, while maintaining a 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 are masks and face coverings required inside public places?

Wearing non-medical masks or face coverings (2+ layers are recommended) inside public places is another way to stop the spread of COVID-19. This is especially true as more businesses and public spaces reopen. With new, more contagious COVID-19 variants now circulating locally and in Ontario, the risk of illness is still there and precautions must continue to be taken.

Evidence supports wearing a mask when in enclosed public spaces as an important measure in reducing COVID-19 transmission. Masks will not stop you from getting COVID-19, but may help protect others. Along with physical distancing, frequent handwashing, cough/sneeze hygiene, and staying home when ill, the use of a non-medical mask or face covering inside public places is another way to 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?

If staff/workers are performing tasks indoors that require them to be less than 2 metres from an unmasked or improperly masked individual without a barrier (e.g. Plexiglass, partition, wall), masks and other appropriate Personal Protective Equipment must be worn to ensure proper protection for eyes, nose and mouth.

Customers and patrons entering a business must also wear a mask or face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin, unless exempted (see next question/answer for details). Masks must also be worn if people line up inside or outside the business (while maintaining physical distancing), as well as when accessing personal care services (like hair salons, barbershops, and tanning salons).

Are there times when you do not have to wear a face covering?

The Ontario government is now mandating the use of face coverings across the province. Below are the only situations when you do not need to wear a face covering:

  • Children do not have to wear a face covering indoors if they are younger than two years old.
  • If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to wear a face covering, are unable to put on or remove a face covering without someone else’s help, and are receiving accommodations according to the Human Rights Code or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005).
  • In correctional facilities or youth detention centres.
  • In university dorms or other similar dwellings, except when you are in a common area and can’t maintain 2 metres (6 feet) from others.
  • If you are performing or rehearsing for a film/television production, concert, artistic event or theatrical performance.

You can also temporarily take off your face covering to:

  • Receive services that require you to take it off (e.g. at the dentist, getting a facial)
  • Take part in an athletic or fitness activity
  • To eat or drink
  • As necessary for health and safety purposes.

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 must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan to ensure people are 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.

A COVID-19 Safety Plan (provincial template or HKPR sample resource) describes how a business or establishment will keep employees, volunteers, patrons, and other people safe, including the wearing of masks/face coverings.

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. Failure to comply with the masking requirements could lead to a fine.

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. Medical documentation does not need to be provided either. 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. To protect their staff and customers, some businesses may offer their service in another way (such as through curbside pickup, delivery services) without allowing someone to enter without a mask.

To avoid potential problems, call ahead to a business to see what its policy is regarding masking and to see if curbside pickup or delivery service options are available.

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.

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

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 COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines the requirements for customers/patrons to wear a mask or face covering when entering the premises.

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 this 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. However, service may be offered in an alternate way (such as curbside pickup, delivery) without allowing an unmasked person to enter the facility.

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 this restriction 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. However, service may be offered in an alternate way (such as curbside pickup, delivery) without allowing an unmasked person to enter the facility.

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 restaurant servers need to wear masks?

Servers must wear a mask and eye protection, as part of the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The COVID-19 Safety Plan must describe the requirements of wearing masks or face coverings, and the wearing of PPE.

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

Yes. The COVID-19 Safety Plan must describe the requirements of wearing masks or face coverings, and the wearing of PPE.

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. However, service may be offered in an alternate way (such as curbside pickup, delivery) without allowing an unmasked person to enter the facility.

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 may want to contact your Ministry of Labour representative to clarify if mask and/or Personal Protective Equipment is required in your situation to avoid a potential fine.

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 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. However, service may be offered in an alternate way (such as curbside pickup, delivery) without allowing an unmasked person to enter the facility.

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. 

What is the proper way to 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. 

What is double masking? Is it now recommended given the new, more contagious COVID-19 variants of concern circulating in Ontario?

Double-masking means wearing one face mask on top of another. An example is wearing a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.

In early February 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new research that found wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask offers more protection against the coronavirus, as does tying knots on the ear loops of surgical masks. This has resulted in new CDC guidelines for Americans on improving mask fit, which includes adding layers of material to a mask (either by using cloth masks with multiple layers of fabric, or by wearing a disposable mask under a cloth mask).

This change comes as new, more contagious COVID-19 variants are circulating. So far, the Public Health Agency of Canada has not changed its recommendations on mask use in Canada. In November 2020, PHAC did update its recommendations to say non-medical masks should be made of at least three layers, with the middle layer being a filter-type fabric.

Currently in Ontario, you must wear a non-medical mask or face covering that covers your nose, mouth and chin inside any business or public place. Properly wearing a mask inside public spaces and maintaining 2 metres physical distance from others are important measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks will not stop you from getting COVID-19, but can help protect others.

While there is no instruction to ‘double mask’ in Canada, consider doing so if it makes you feel more comfortable (taking care to ensure it does not make breathing difficult). Add an extra layer to your cloth mask or try wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask.

The best advice to prevent COVID-19 remains staying home as much as possible and avoiding contact with other people you do not live with.


Additional Resources

Posters For Businesses/Commercial Establishments

How to Use/Wear a (3-Layer) Cloth Mask Video – HKPR District Health Unit Video

Mask Use during COVID-19

On This Page:

Wearing face coverings is an important way to reduce the risk of COVID-19. That’s why it’s important to know when and how to properly wear a mask.

NOTE: The Ontario government is mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions. For complete details, click here.

The Province is also now recommending that a mask or face covering be worn outdoors when you can’t maintain 2 metres physical distance from others outside your household. 

Medical Masks (like surgical and N-95):
close up White protective hygenic mask isolated backgrounds for doctors and patient from virus biological infection and PM2.5 dust, pandemic news

These must be kept for health care providers and for those providing direct care for someone with COVID-19.

If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and need to seek medical care, wear a mask. Your health provider may also recommend you wear a mask while you’re seeking or waiting for care. The mask acts as a barrier and helps stop the tiny droplets from spreading around you when you cough or sneeze.

Masks MUST be put on, taken off and thrown out properly. If you need to wear a mask, be sure to clean your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. When wearing a mask, follow this Public Health Ontario fact sheet  on how to properly wear and throw away one.


Homemade (Cloth) Masks:

The Ontario government is now mandating that masks have to be worn in most public places across the province.

When worn properly, non-medical masks can help to cover your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating other people or landing on common surfaces. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) advises that putting on a homemade mask can help protect others around you if you’re ill with COVID-19 and do not yet know it. PHAC is also recommending that masks or face coverings should be made of at least three layers, including:

  • Two layers made of tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton or linen
  • The third (middle) layer made of a filter-type fabric, such as non-woven polypropylene fabric.

NOTE: People shouldn’t throw away their two-layer non-medical masks. If making or buying more masks, consider the three-layer mask for improved protection.

Wearing a face mask in public places, together with washing your hands with soap and water, staying home and maintaining physical distancing, are all important to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Homemade masks or facial coverings should not be worn/put on by:

  • Children under age 2 years, or a child under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally
  • A person who is unable to remove a mask without assistance
  • Anyone who cannot safely wear a non-medical mask or face covering due to medical reasons such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information

Click here for specific information on mask use regulations currently in effect in Ontario.


Double Masking

Double-masking means wearing one face mask on top of another. An example is wearing a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.

In early February 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new research that found wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask offers more protection against the coronavirus, as does tying knots on the ear loops of surgical masks. This has resulted in new CDC guidelines for Americans on improving mask fit, which includes adding layers of material to a mask (either by using cloth masks with multiple layers of fabric, or by wearing a disposable mask under a cloth mask).

This change comes as new, more contagious COVID-19 variants are circulating. So far, the Public Health Agency of Canada has not changed its recommendations on mask use in Canada. In November 2020, PHAC did update its recommendations to say non-medical masks should be made of at least three layers, with the middle layer being a filter-type fabric.

Currently in Ontario, you must wear a non-medical mask or face covering that covers your nose, mouth and chin inside any business or public place. Properly wearing a mask inside public spaces and maintaining 2 metres physical distance from others are important measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks will not stop you from getting COVID-19, but can help protect others.

While there is no instruction to ‘double mask’ in Canada, consider doing so if it makes you feel more comfortable (taking care to ensure it does not make breathing difficult). Add an extra layer to your cloth mask or try wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask.

The best advice to prevent COVID-19 remains staying home as much as possible and avoiding contact with other people you do not live with.


How to Properly Use a Homemade Mask/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.
  • For ideas on making your own homemade cloth masks, visit this Public Health Agency of Canada masks resource page.

Summary Do’s and Don’ts for Using Homemade Masks/Face Coverings

Do:

  • Wash your hands immediately before putting on and immediately after taking off a face covering or face mask
  • Practise good hand hygiene while you are wearing the face covering
  • Make sure the face covering fits well around your nose and mouth
  • Avoid moving the mask around or adjusting it often
  • Avoid touching the covering while using it
  • Change the face covering or face mask when it gets slightly wet or dirty

Do Not:

  • Share face coverings or face masks with others
  • Place on children under the age of two years or on anyone unable to remove without assistance or who has trouble breathing
  • Use plastic or other non-breathable materials as a face covering or face mask

Isolating During COVID-19

In certain cases, you MUST isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This protects you and others from illness, especially those more at risk from COVID-19 such as seniors and people with chronic medical conditions. With new COVID-19 variants of concern that can be spread easier now being detected in Ontario, it’s even more important to isolate or quarantine when directed (click here for links to FAQs on variants).

Please Note: On December 12, 2020, the Acting local Medical Officer of Health issued the following updated Class Order under Section 22 (5.01.1) under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. This order replaces an original order pertaining to self-isolating due to COVID-19. The updated Class Order is designed to protect the health of local residents by reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

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When to Isolate

Public health staff will give you further direction on when and how long to isolate or quarantine, depending on your circumstances. In general, you must isolate:

  1. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
  2. If you have the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, have been tested and are awaiting the results.
  3. If you believe you have COVID-19 symptoms (even mild ones).
  4. You must quarantine if you are identified as a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, is awaiting test results or is believed to have symptoms.
  5. Parents and caregivers of anyone under age 16 who tests positive for COVID-19, is awaiting test results or is believed to have symptoms may also need to isolate.

NOTE: The federal government also has mandatory quarantine and isolation orders in effect for travelers to and from Canada. Please click here for full details.


How Long to Isolate

You must remain in isolation or quarantine as directed by public health staff.

In general, you must isolate for:

  • 10 days if diagnosed with mild to moderate COVID-19 illness and symptoms
  • 20 days if you suffered more severe COVID-19 illness (e.g. requiring Intensive Care Unit level support) or are immune-compromised.

You must quarantine for:

  • 14 days if you had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or strongly suspected of having the virus.

Please follow specific public health guidance for isolating and quarantining, or call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020 for further direction.

How to Isolate
Stay home

Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares.

Do not go to work, school or other public places.

Stay home unless you need to get tested or require emergency medical care.


Avoid contact with others

No visitors unless essential (e.g. care providers)

Stay away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, lung problems, immune deficiency).

As much as possible, stay in a separate room away from other people in your home and use a separate bathroom if you have one.

Make sure that shared rooms have good airflow (e.g. open windows).

If these steps are not possible, keep a distance of at least two metres (6 feet) from others at all times.


Keep your distance

If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two metres and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

Other people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you.


Wash your hands

Wash your hands often with soap and water.

Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else will share.

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.


Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.

Throw used tissues in a lined wastebasket, and wash your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal safer.

Clean your hands after emptying the wastebasket.


Wear a mask over your nose and mouth

Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider or to get tested for COVID-19.

Wear a mask when you are within two metres of other people, or stay in a separate room.

If you do not have a mask, maintain two metres distance from people and cover your cough and sneezes


What should I do if I develop symptoms?
  • Complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment.
  • Contact Telehealth (1-866-797-0000) or your health care provider.
  • Anyone with whom you had close physical contact (e.g., in your household) in the two days before your symptoms started or after symptoms started should also isolate. If you have questions about this, call the local Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.
  • You will be directed by the Health Unit or health care provider on how long you need to isolate or quarantine.
  • When you stop isolating or quarantining, you should continue with measures to prevent COVID-19, including physical distancing and properly wearing a mask or face covering.
  • If you are still unwell at the end of your isolation or quarantine period, contact Telehealth or your health care provider for further direction.

Isolating with NO COVID-19 Symptoms (Older Adults and people with existing medical conditions)

After Your Isolation Period is Over

If you do not develop symptoms after your isolation period is over OR If you no longer have a fever and your symptoms have improved:

  • You can stop isolating, but for your protection, stay home except for essential trips (e.g. groceries and medication)
  • You MUST practise physical distancing measures when in public
  • Continue with frequent handwashing and avoid touching your face

If you are still unwell after this period, contact Telehealth or your health care provider for further direction. You can also call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.


Additional Resources
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Physical Distancing

Practise physical distancing as much as possible anytime you’re outdoors or in the community. This is important to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Tips for Physical Distancing:
  • Keep a minimum two-metre (six-foot) distance between yourself and others. That’s roughly the length of a hockey stick.
  • When out in the community, practise physical distancing every step of the way!
  • With more businesses and services reopening, the Health Unit is now instructing the use of non-medical masks or face coverings inside all public places. Click here for more specifics on this instruction.
  • Get outside to exercise and be active, but try to maintain a physical distance of at last 2 metres (6-feet) from others. This is especially true as more parks and outdoor recreational amenities reopen.
  • Greet people with a wave, bow or nod, instead of handshake or hug. After being outside, wash your hands with soap and water.
  • During the province-wide COVID-19 shutdown, do not gather with a group for a celebration or event. Instead, try to connect with family or friends by phone or online.
  • Work from home if possible. Talk to your supervisor, manager, or employer about options. Cancel in-person business meetings. Instead, look at teleconferencing or video chat options.
  • If you are sick, avoid visits to care facilities like long-term care homes, retirement homes, supportive housing, and hospices. Stay home and use Ontario’s online COVID-19 Screening Tool to see what additional care you may need.
  • Sanitize/wash your hands when entering or exiting building. Avoid long lineups. Use tap to pay instead of handling money.
  • Do NOT use public transit if you are sick. Self-isolate at home right away.
  • If you must use public transit, wash hands often, keep a two-metre distance between other passengers, wear a non-medical mask and aim to travel in non-peak hours.

Remember: While you may not feel sick, and while these measures may seem inconvenient, they are important to reduce the spread of COVID-19.


Additional Resources:

Download and print resources below:

Reducing Harm When Using Drugs

Washing hands, covering your cough, self-isolating, and practising physical distancing are all needed to slow the spread of COVID-19. If you currently use substances or other drugs, there’s added urgency to be safe. Not only is it important to avoid overdoses and reduce the risk of infections like HIV and hepatitis, you also need to reduce harm from COVID-19.  

Please note: During COVID-19, if you need harm reduction supplies, please order ahead if possible by calling the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 3000. Ring or knock at the office door when you come to pick up and the order will be brought to the door for you. 

General Tips (For Those Not Self-Isolating/Showing No COVID-19 Symptoms) 
  • Do not share supplies (cigarettes, joints, pipes, injecting equipment, containers for alcohol, utensils, and other supplies). Use your own mouthpiece and keep it only for YOUR use 
  • Avoid handshakes, hugs, kisses and other close contact 
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before preparing, handling or using drugs. Prepare your own drugs 
  • If you cannot wash your hands with soap or use hand sanitizer, use alcohol-based hand wipes 
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use tissues. Throw tissues away immediately and wash your hands 
  • It’s strongly recommended you clean surfaces with soap and water, alcohol wipes, bleach or hydrogen peroxide before preparing drugs 
  • If you share a washroom with others, clean and disinfect surfaces like knobs, taps, and flushers. Use soap and water, bleach, hydrogen peroxide or alcohol-based wipes (70%) after every use. Do not mix different types of cleaning solutions 
  • Buddy up if using drugs, but be safe! COVID-19 is passed by droplets, so you must stay 2 metres (six feet) – roughly the length of a hockey stick – from your buddy to avoid passing the virus  
  • Using with a buddy is safer than using drugs alone, but remember to keep your physical distance! Buddies may be able to bring food, harm reduction supplies, medicine, and substances so that you can stay well. You can also be a buddy to others who need support. Check in on your buddies regularly and have them do the same for you  
  • Carry naloxone and have an overdose plan. If necessary, you can perform chest compressions. Do not do rescue breathing due to COVID-19 concerns  
  • If you must use drugs by yourself, call a buddy to have him/her regularly check in on you 
If Isolating (With or Without COVID-19 Symptoms)  
  • Do not leave your home! Ask a buddy to pick up supplies including naloxone from harm reduction sites or outreach workers. Arrange to have the supplies dropped off at your door, being sure to practise physical distancing  
  • Try to have the substances you need to stay well. Know that carrying large amounts may land you in trouble with the law. Consider alternatives to your drug of choice, especially if supplies are difficult to get and you face withdrawal symptoms 
  • Have a backup plan and be cautious of new supplies you may need to get  
  • Try to have the medications you need. Refills may be available through your pharmacist or by phone without having to see your doctor. If you’re feeling sick and require medications, call your pharmacy in advance 
  • Health Canada is working on exemptions to ensure access to OAT (Opioid Agonist Therapy) and other medicines 
  • For more information, contact your health care provider  
Responding to an Overdose During COVID-19 

If using a naloxone kit, refer to the Five Steps to Respond to an Opioid Overdose sheet inside. Take these extra precautions too:  

  • Stimulate: try and rouse the person, encourage them to take breaths 
  • If no response: call 9-1-1, give naloxone and perform chest compressions. DO NOT try doing rescue breathing 
  • When using a naloxone kit: put gloves on, but do not use the faceshield/breathing barrier for rescue breaths (not advised given COVID-19 situation) 
  • After responding, properly remove gloves and throw them in the garbage. Wash/clean hands thoroughly 
  • If chest compressions are needed, place a towel or a piece of clothing over the person’s nose and mouth to protect yourself from droplets 

Reminder: The Good Samaritan Act offers legal protection for someone to help in an emergency. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protects anyone on scene of an overdose from being charged for possessing/using drugs 

Additional Resources  

Testing for COVID-19 – What Now?

Testing for COVID-19 is a critical step in stopping the spread of illness.  

Where and When to Get Tested 
If You Test Positive for COVID-19 
  • You MUST continue to isolate if you test positive for the virus. Public health will call you as soon as possible about your test results and ask you questions about places you have visited and people who you were in close contact. Anyone in close contact with you may be at risk from COVID-19 themselves, so must be called. Your help in answering these questions is essential to protect the health of others in the community.   
  • PLEASE NOTE: Public Health Ontario (PHO) is supporting the Health Unit’s efforts to follow up with all COVID-19 contacts in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. If a PHO contact tracer calls you, the number will appear as ‘Unknown.’ This is NOT a scam. If you have questions, call 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020
  • You will receive regular phone calls from public health staff to see how you are doing and to monitor any symptoms you have. Public health staff will also ensure you are staying in self-isolation at home and can discuss any supports you need and respond to your questions. 
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and do NOT stay at home in self-isolation, you could be served with a Class Order under Section 22 (5.01.1) of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. This order states you must stay home in self-isolation or face daily fines or imprisonment for not doing so. 
  • There are different periods for self-isolating, depending on your situation and the nature of your COVID-19 symptoms. To be safe, do not stop self-isolating until you receive the all-clear from the Health Unit.  
  • Visit the Ontario government website to learn more about COVID-19 testing. 
Close Contacts 
  • Public health staff (either Health Unit or Public Health Ontario staff) will follow up with anyone who has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. This is called contact tracing.  
  • Individuals who are considered close contacts to someone who has COVID-19 can include: 
    • Family members/people living in the same household 
    • Anyone who had direct contact with a positive COVID-19 case 
  • Public health will follow up with these close contacts and give instructions on what they need to do (like quarantining) to slow the spread of COVID-19. Public health will also do regular phone calls with close contacts to check in on them and ensure they follow public health directions. 

How to Self-Monitor

It’s important to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. That’s why it’s essential to watch for symptoms.

Here’s how to self-monitor if you are asked by your health care provider or public health unit to watch for symptoms of COVID-19.

Monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure for fever, cough or difficulty breathing

Image of three characters representing someone having a fever, another with a cough and a third with difficulty breathing
Avoid Public Spaces

Avoid crowded public spaces and places where you cannot easily separate yourself from others if you become ill.

If you are unable to maintain a two metre distance, wear a non-medical mask or face covering to protect others from your potentially infectious droplets

What to do if you develop these or any other symptoms?
  • Self-isolate immediately and contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, your health care provider or take a COVID-19 online self-assessment.
  • To isolate you will need:
    • Soap, water and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands
  • If you visit your health care provider, avoid using public transportation such as subways, taxis and shared rides. If you cannot avoid this, wear a mask and keep a two-metre distance from others or use the back seat if in a car.

This information is from the Public Health Ontario fact sheet “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) How to Self-Monitor

Additional Resource:

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.

Download and print resources below:

Image of Are You Sick? AODA compliant poster – click to download
Image of Are You Sick? AODA compliant poster – click to download

Are You Sick?
Poster

Local COVID-19 Testing & Assessment Centres

Download the COVID Alert Tracing App

On This Page:

COVID-19 Assessment Centres

Below are locations of the specific COVID-19 Assessment Centres in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Please note that all COVID-19 Assessment Centres are now by appointment only (no walk-ins are allowed). Effective immediately, you are only asked to use these assessment centres if you are:

  • Showing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by your public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app
  • A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by your local public health unit
  • Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Please Note: If you are having difficulty accessing your COVID-19 testing results, please follow up with the Assessment Centre where you were tested.

City of Kawartha Lakes

Ross Memorial Hospital (RMH) COVID-19 Assessment Centre in Lindsay

The RMH COVID-19 Assessment Centre is now located inside Ross Memorial Hospital. To get tested:

  • Visit the Ontario COVID-19 website to see if you qualify for testing under the current provincial guidelines.
  • Call 705-328-6217 or request an appointment online.
  • Do not leave multiple messages or submit multiple forms
  • Appointments are available Monday to Friday from 9:30-5:15 pm
  • You will receive a call back within 1-2 business days

When arriving for your appointment:

  • Arrive to the hospital at your appointment time. (NOTE: When making your appointment, you will be given instructions on where to park and which hospital entrance to use for testing)
  • Wear a mask
  • Bring your health card and identification
  • Maintain physical distancing from others awaiting testing
  • Your results should be available online within five days of testing. If unable to access your results online after five days, call (705) 328-6217 and leave a message.

If symptoms are severe, including difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion or losing consciousness, you should be seen in the Emergency Department immediately.

Northumberland County

Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) COVID-19 Assessment Centre in Cobourg

NHH’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre (1000 DePalma Dr., in Cobourg) is now located in new trailer space immediately outside hospital’s Emergency Department entrance. A dedicated entry/exit is available to the new asessment centre.

NHH’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre is now operating on an appointment-basis only. Walk-ins will no longer be accepted. To book an appointment, call 905-377-7783. The assessment centre is open daily from 8 am to 4 pm for pre-booked appointments.

The NHH COVID-19 Assessment Centre will screen patients, test (if deemed appropriate) and direct patients to proceed as required. Through a temporary arrangement with the Northumberland Family Health Team, the Community Health Centres of Northumberland, and local primary care physicians, the NHH COVID-19 Assessment Centre is now able to offer patients the option to see a primary care provider (family physician or nurse practitioner) in addition to receiving a COVID-19 test.  Learn more details by calling the centre.

Canton COVID-19 Testing Centre (Municipality of Port Hope)

A new COVID-19 testing centre is now open at the Port Hope Community Hub (formerly Canton Municipal Hall) located at 5325 County Road 10, just north of Canton. The testing centre will be available for individuals without active COVID-19 symptoms. Hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (8 am to 4 pm) for virtual screening by phone or pre-scheduled appointments only. To book an appointment, call 905-377-7783.

Trent Hills COVID-19 Assessment Centre in Campbellford

The centre is open Mondays to Thursdays from 9 am to 5 pm (closed Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays). To book an appointment for COVID-19 test, call the local Assessment Centre directly at 705-395-1801. Please do not go to the Assessment Centre without first calling to book an appointment. Please do not call Campbellford Memorial Hospital either.

The Trent Hills COVID 19 Assessment Centre is located at Campbellford Memorial Hospital on the basement level in the former paramedic bay and offices. Access to the site will be a drive-through, drive-up centre. All visitors are to remain in their cars, and Assessment Centre staff will provide assessment/testing to you while you remain in your vehicle.

For days the Assessment Centre is not available, contact the HKPR District Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.

NOTE: Test results are now being managed differently. Only individuals with a positive COVID-19 test result will be contacted by a member of the Infection Control Team. All other individuals can check their results online. A handout with this information will be provided to each person attending the Assessment Centre.

Haliburton County

Haliburton County COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre

To book an appointment for testing, call the Haliburton County COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre at 705-457-1212 during regular business hours. You can seek an appointment if you are a Haliburton County resident and meet any of the following criteria:

  • You have at least one COVID-19 symptom.
  • You are concerned you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 because you were in contact with a confirmed or suspected case
  • You are at risk of COVID-19 exposure because of your employment (e.g. health care worker, grocery store employees, other front-line workers)

PLEASE NOTE: if your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 and alert the dispatcher to your symptoms.

The Haliburton County COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre is staffed by health care providers who will complete a phone assessment and advise as to appropriate next steps, which may include self-monitoring instructions, self-isolation instructions, or further assessment and testing in the drive-through facility. The Centre is for all residents of Haliburton County, regardless of whether you have a family doctor.

COVID-19 Testing at Pharmacies

The Ontario government is now allowing some pharmacies to provide COVID-19 testing, including some in the local Health Unit area. Testing at pharmacies will be free, by appointment, and available ONLY to people who are not showing COVID-19 symptoms. Pharmacies will also be doing COVID pre-screening of anyone seeking a test. Click here to find pharmacy testing locations in your area (you can search by community or postal code).

Handwashing and Hand Hygiene

Washing your hands is one of the best ways to keep yourself safe from COVID-19. Click here to download a printable How to Handwash poster.

Step 1

Wet hands with warm running water.

Step 2

Apply soap, any type will clean your hand effectively.

Step 3

Rub hands palm to palm

Step 4

Lather the backs of your hands

Step 5

Clean thumbs

Step 6

Wash fingernails and fingertips

Step 7

Rinse hands

Step 8

Dry with a single use towel

Step 9

Use the towel to turn off the faucet

Additional Resources
Watch our YouTube video
Additional Resources:

Download and print resources below:

Mental Health and COVID-19

COVID-19 can feel overwhelming. While it’s important to reduce the risk of the virus, you also need to look after your mental health at this time. Here’s what to do: 

  • Maintain routines as you’re able, keeping in mind the importance to take precautions such as physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • While you’re encouraged to only have close contact with others in your immediate household, stay connected with family and friends through phone, social media or video-conferencing.
  • Seek professional help. If you’re overwhelmed, talk by phone to a health professional or counsellor. If you have coverage for a counsellor through work, access your Employee and Family Assistance Plan.  
  • Eat well 
  • Stay active: Doing fun and healthy activities outdoors makes it easier to keep physical distance.  
  • Get enough sleep 
  • Look back at challenging situations and see how you successfully coped with them 
  • Limit your daily dose of COVID-19-related news to reduce anxiety and worry. Fight fear with facts about the pandemic by turning to credible sources of information. 

Supporting Others 

  • COVID-19 affects everyone, so be kind to others – regardless of gender, ethnicity, income or age. 
  • Reduce stigma. Use supportive language like: “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID19”, or “people who are recovering from COVID-19”. Don’t define others  just because they’re affected by the coronavirus.   
  • Be neighbourly and assist others where possible, being sure to protect your health as well. 
  • Share positive and inspiring stories of what your community is doing to pull together during this time.  
  • Be patient and recognize the role caretakers and health care workers are playing in supporting people affected with COVID-19.  
If You Are Self-Isolating 
  • Stay connected with friends and family by phone, social media or video calls. 
  • Ask for help from friends, family and neighbours to deliver necessities to your door. Many community groups (e.g. churches and service clubs) have volunteers to help those who are isolated. 
  • Even if isolating or in quarantine, keep up your personal daily routines at home or create new ones.  
  • Stay healthy. Be active, eat well and get enough sleep.  
If You Have Mental Health and Addiction Issues

It’s extra important to control your anxiety and maintain your mental wellness during COVID-19:

  • Consider and accept that some fear and anxiety is normal
  • Seek credible information provided by experts and reputable sources
  • Assess your personal risk
  • Seek support
  • Get proper rest and sleep
  • Stay active
  • Access this Mental Health and COVID-19 Pandemic resource from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Additional Resources:  

Four County Crisis – If you’re in crisis please call 705-745-6484 or toll-free 1-866-995-9933. By phoning these numbers, you can access 24-hour, free, confidential crisis support.

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.

Centre for Addition and Mental Health  

Bounce Back – A guided self-help program for adults and youth aged 15 and over using workbooks with online videos and phone coaching support.

Kids’ Help Phone – 24/7 virtual support service offering professional counselling, information and referrals as well as volunteer-led, text-based support to young people. Services available in both English and French by calling 1-800-668-6868.

Good2Talk – Free, confidential mental health support service providing professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to postsecondary students in Ontario

Wellness Together Canada – Mental health and substance use support.

World Health Organization 

Download and print resources below:

Respiratory Etiquette

Health is in our hands! Let’s prevent the spread of COVID-19 by using simple, but effective steps to protect our health:

Cover Your Cough

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put your used tissue in the waste basket

Young girl blowing her nose into a tissue
Sneeze in Your Sleeve

If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.

Mask

You may be asked to put on a face mask to protect others.

Wash Hands

Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 15 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Woman washing hands.
Watch our video on YouTube
Additional Resources

How to Cover Your Cough – Public Health Ontario

Download and print resources below:

Cleaning and Disinfecting During COVID-19

It is essential to clean and disinfect common surfaces to reduce the spread of illnesses like COVID-19. Here’s what to do:


What you should know
  • Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19.
  • Frequently touched surfaces are most likely to be contaminated.
  • Check the expiry date of products you use and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Icon image of a tub of cleaning supplies
Clean frequently touched surfaces often
  • In addition to routine cleaning, surfaces that have frequent contact with hands should be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Examples include doorknobs, kitchens, light switches, toilet handles, counters, remotes, touch screen surfaces and keypads.
Icon image of a finger touching a surface

Select products

Cleaners
  • Break down grease and remove organic material from the surface.
  • Used separately before using disinfectants.
  • Can be purchased with cleaner and disinfectant combined in a single product
Icon of a sponge filled with bubbles
Disinfectants
Icon of a spray bottle of disinfectant
Disinfectant Wipes
  • Have combined cleaners and disinfectants in one solution.
  • May become dry due to fast drying properties. Should be discarded if they become dry.
  • Not recommended for heavily soiled surfaces.
Prepare products for use
  • Where possible, use pre-mixed solution.
  • Read and follow manufacturer’s instructions to:
    • properly prepare solution
    • allow adequate contact time for disinfectant to kill germs (see product label)
    • wear gloves, if you have sensitive skin, when handling cleaning products including wipes or wash your hands after use
Watch our video on YouTube

This information is from the Public Health Ontario fact sheet “COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings”

If you have questions about COVID-19, contact your health care provider, Telehealth 1-866-797-0000 or the HKPR District Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 x5020.

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