Masks for Albertans program
We distributed 40 million free non-medical masks to Albertans in June and July. The program is now complete and there are no plans to distribute more free masks at this time.
By partnering with A&W, McDonald’s Canada, Tim Hortons and community partners in like transit services, First Nations communities and Metis Settlements, places of worship and others, we saved about $35 million for packaging, shipping and distribution of the masks.
Non-medical masks can be purchased at pharmacies, grocery stores, or other local retailers.
Why use a mask
Albertans are encouraged to wear non-medical masks in public when it's difficult to maintain physical distancing of 2 metres at all times.
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 it’s difficult to maintain 2 metres distance from people for a prolonged period of time:
- public transit and airplanes
- grocery stores and pharmacies
- hair salons and barbershops
- some retail stores
- Masks are mandatory for Grade 4 to 12 students and all school staff, as part of the school re-entry plan
- When mask use is mandatory by municipal bylaw, check your local community for details
When not to use a mask
- If it’s dirty or damaged in any way
- If it gaps or doesn’t fit well
- If it’s been used by another person
- Children under 2 years of age
- Anyone that has trouble breathing
- When you are only with people from your own household
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
- 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. 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 multiple layers of tight woven fabric – 4 layers is optimal.
- Use a combination of fabrics such as a high thread count cotton (e.g. 600-thread count pillowcases and cotton sheets) with spun bond polyproplylene or polyester.
- 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
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.
- 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
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.