Mandatory mask requirement
Why use a mask
Albertans are encouraged to wear non-medical masks in public places or if they have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Wearing a homemade or non-medical mask in public is another tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It hasn’t been proven that masks protect the person wearing it, but it can help protect people from being exposed to your germs.
Masks should complement – not replace – other prevention measures. Continue physical distancing and good hand hygiene, and stay home when sick.
When to use a mask
- When mask use is mandatory:
- Indoor public places
- Indoor workspaces
- Places of worship
- K-12 schools when required
- When you might come within 2 metres of people from outside your household
- Note: some municipalities may have additional masking bylaws in place
When not to use a mask
- If it has been used by another person
- Children under 2 years of age
- You qualify for an exception
- A mask should be replaced if it:
- is damaged in any way
- has gaps or doesn’t fit well
Masks are mandatory in all indoor workplaces and facilities outside the home, except:
- when working alone in an office or a safely distanced cubicle or a barrier is in place
- rental accommodations used solely for the purposes of a private residence
- farm operations (exempt)
- applies to all employees, customers, visitors, delivery personnel and contractors
- includes any location where employees are present in-person
- includes all workplace locations where masks won’t pose a safety risk
- does not change current student mask requirements in schools
- Private businesses may set their own policies as long as they also meet the minimum provincial requirements. This can include requiring individuals to wear masks while attending their business.
- Businesses and public places are encouraged to provide alternatives for patrons unable to wear masks, such as offering online orders, delivery or curbside pickup.
Exceptions where mask requirements may not apply
- When you are only with people from your own household
- If you need assistance placing, using or removing a face mask
- If you are unable to wear a facemask due to a medical condition
- When consuming food or drink
- If engaging in high intensity physical exercise
- When providing or receiving care or assistance where a facemask would hinder that caregiving or assistance
- When alone at a workstation separated by at least 2 metres from other people
- When working in farm operations
- If you are the subject of a workplace hazard assessment in which it is determined that your safety will be at risk if you wear a mask while working
- If you are separated by every other person by a physical barrier that prevents droplet transmission
- If you need to temporarily remove your facemask while in a public place for an emergency or medical purpose or to:
- receive a service that requires the temporary removal of a facemask
- establish your identity
Exception for a medical condition
Anyone unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition will require a medical exception letter from an authorized health professional.
- The medical exception letter must come from a nurse practitioner, physician or psychologist.
- The medical exception letter may be presented when in a public setting if requested by enforcement officials, or retrospectively in court if a ticket is issued.
- See the list of medical conditions for which an authorized health professional may issue a medical exception letter.
If you qualify for an exception
- You don’t need to provide proof unless it’s for a medical condition.
- Consider contacting businesses before you visit them to learn more about options and requirements.
- You must follow all other public health measures, such as keeping 2 metres apart from other people.
How to use a mask
Masks can become contaminated on the outside or when touched with hands.
It’s important that masks are used and disposed of properly. If worn incorrectly, you can accidently spread infection instead of preventing it.
What to do
- Wash or sanitize your hands:
- before putting it on
- before taking it off
- after taking it off
- Inspect the mask, holding it by the ties or loops. Discard if damaged or dirty
- Tighten with ties or ear loops to reduce gaps
- Keep nose, mouth and chin covered at all times
- Remove if wet, torn or dirty and dispose in a lined garbage bin
- Store cloth masks in a sealed bag until it can be washed in hot, soapy water
What not to do
- Don't touch your face under the mask
- Don't touch the front of the mask – remove or adjust using the ties or ear loops
- Don't wear it under your nose or your chin
- Don't wear a wet, torn or dirty mask
- Don’t wear the same mask for a long period of time – change when it becomes damp
- Don’t share with another person
How to care for your cloth mask
- Reusable masks should be washed daily.
- Disposable filters should be changed daily or as directed by the manufacturer.
- Store masks in a sealed and clean storage bag and place in a dry area of your home.
- Put cloth masks directly into the washing machine or in a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine. Throw out the bag after you’ve used it to store masks.
- Launder with other items using a hot cycle, and then dry thoroughly.
- Inspect the mask for damage prior to reuse.
How to make or buy a mask
Making a mask
- There are many ways to make a cloth mask and filters. Filters add an extra layer of protection by trapping small infectious particles. Health Canada provides instructions with sew and no-sew options.
- Choose a fabric or cloth that can withstand frequent cycles through washing and drying machines
- Use at least 3 layers
- 2 layers should be tightly woven fabric, such as cotton or linen
- middle layer should be a filter-type fabric, such as non-woven polypropylene
- Use different fabrics or colours for each side of the mask. This helps you to know which side faces your mouth and which side faces out.
Buying a mask
- Make sure cloth masks:
- have multiple layers of fabric
- fits securely against your face
- allows for clear breathing
- can be laundered
Masks not recommended
Face shields do not replace masks or face coverings.
A face shield is used to protect the eyes of the person wearing it. Using a face shield without a mask won’t protect:
- you from potentially inhaling infectious respiratory droplets exhaled by others
- others from your infectious respiratory droplets, as they can escape around the face shield
If you’re unable to wear a mask or face covering, you may want to wear a face shield. Choose one that extends around the sides of the face and below the chin. You’ll still need to:
- maintain physical distancing of 2 metres
- practise good hand hygiene, especially if you touch the face shield
Neck gaiters (neck warmers)
Neck gaiters (also known as neck warmers) aren’t recommended because they:
- aren’t well secured to the head or ears, and are likely to move or slip out of place
- are difficult to remove without contaminating yourself
If a neck gaiter must be used as a face covering:
- it should be folded to provide at least 3 layers of fabric and should include a filter or filter fabric added between layers
- lift it away from your face, especially when taking it off
- wash your hands or use alcohol based hand sanitizer anytime you need to adjust it, especially when putting it on and taking it off
Masks with exhalation valves
Masks with exhalation valves or vents are not recommended. These masks do not protect others from COVID-19 or limit the spread of the virus. This is because they allow infectious respiratory droplets to spread outside the mask.
- Medical masks include N95 masks and surgical or procedure masks:
- N95 masks protect from exposure to biological aerosols that may contain viruses or bacteria. They are generally only required during specific, high-risk medical procedures.
- Surgical or procedure masks provide a barrier to splashes, droplets, saliva or spit. They are not designed to fit tightly against the face.
- Medical masks should be kept for health care workers, people providing direct care to COVID-19 patients, and people who have a high risk of experiencing severe illness.
- They may also be recommended for use in some workplaces, like salons, where there is prolonged close contact with people.
It is not necessary to wear gloves in public. If you choose to wear gloves, remember:
- wash your hands before you put them on and immediately after taking them off
- change gloves if:
- you touch your face – eyes, nose or mouth
- you cover a cough or sneeze with your hands while wearing gloves
- they become dirty or torn
- discard gloves in a lined garbage bin after taking them off
To avoid spreading germs or COVID-19:
- do not touch your face or mask with your gloves
- do not touch any personal items (cell phone, bag, credit card) that you might touch again with bare hands
- do not to try to wash gloves or use hand sanitizer with gloves on
Personal protective equipment
- Businesses can connect to suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE) through:
We do not endorse any particular vendor and are not responsible for products or prices offered on these sites.
- Alberta-based businesses that manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) can find out how to help at Alberta Bits and Pieces.
How to wear a non-medical mask posters
Downloadable posters are available to share tips on how to properly put on and take off a mask.
Help prevent the spread posters
Downloadable posters are available to share tips on ways to practice physical distancing, and let your clients or customers know your business or workplace is open.