Upcoming changes to mask requirements
Starting August 16, masks will no longer be required when using public transit, including ride share vehicles, taxis, motor coaches and shuttles. Some masking requirements will remain in high risk settings such as acute care and continuing care.
Why use a mask
Wearing a homemade or non-medical mask in public is a tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. It hasn’t been proven that masks protect the person wearing it, but it can help protect people from being exposed to your germs.
Mask use is completely optional except in some specific situations where it is mandatory:
- working in or visiting any continuing care facility, as well as any facility operated by AHS, Covenant or their contracted service providers
- using public transit, including ride share vehicles, taxis, motor coaches and shuttles
- note: municipalities and businesses may have additional masking requirements in place
In these specific situations, mask use is not required if
- the individual is under 2 years of age
- the individual qualifies for a medical exception
- Private businesses may set their own policies. This can include requiring individuals to wear masks while attending their business.
- Businesses are encouraged to provide alternatives for patrons unable to wear masks, such as offering online orders, delivery or curbside pickup.
Exception for a medical condition
In the specific settings where a mask is required, 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.
How to use a mask
Masks can become contaminated on the outside or when touched with hands.
Do not wear a mask that has been worn by someone else and replace your mask if it:
- is damaged in any way
- has gaps or doesn’t fit wel
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.
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