Novel Coronavirus COVID-19
 

Mask Guidance for Manitobans


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Wearing a Mask


People release respiratory droplets by sneezing, coughing, spitting, heavy breathing, singing or simply talking. COVID-19 mainly spreads through close contact (within two metres or six feet) with an infected person’s respiratory droplets. Although uncommon, you may also get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has been contaminated by the virus and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

Wearing a non-medical mask can protect the people around you. When worn properly, a person wearing a non-medical mask may reduce the spread of their own respiratory droplets from spreading to others or landing on surfaces. Non-medical masks, when worn properly, may also help to protect the wearer from exposure to the respiratory droplets of others.

Wearing a mask alone will not stop the spread of COVID-19. However, masks are recommended for use in shared spaces with non-household members, in both indoor and outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained. People must also continue to practice important public health fundamentals to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Manitoba. This includes staying home when sick, practicing proper hand hygiene (hand washing or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer) cough etiquette, and physical distancing.

Non-medical mask use may be mandated in certain regions of the province or at certain locations. Up-to-date information on current mask mandates in Manitoba can be found as part of the province’s #RestartMB Pandemic Response System.




How to properly use a non-medical mask


When masks are worn properly, they may help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to yourself and others.




Putting your mask on properly

  • Choose a mask that is clean and dry (wash before use using hot water or as directed by manufacturer).
  • Before use, check the mask to make sure there are no rips or holes. Dispose of the mask if damaged.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands before touching your mask.
  • Use the loops or ties to place mask over nose and mouth and secure it.
  • Adjust mask by the loops or ties if needed to ensure your nose and mouth are fully covered.
  • Press and mold any wiring over your nose with clean hands.
  • Then, wash or sanitize your hands again.
  • Avoid touching the mask and your face while wearing it.
  • Don’t hang mask from your neck or ears.

Safely removing your mask

  • Wash or sanitize your hands before removing your mask. Handle the mask with the loops or ties when removing.
  • Fold the outer parts of the mask together and place a reusable mask in a clean, breathable bag or container, such as an envelope or paper bag, to store. Place disposable mask in the garbage.
  • Don’t reuse your mask without washing it if it is moist, dirty or damaged.
  • Wash your mask daily after use using hot water or as directed by manufacturer and dry thoroughly.

You can also visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website for posters, videos and guidelines for how to safely use a non-medical mask.




How to choose a non-medical mask


Look for a non-medical mask made of a tightly-woven material (cotton or linen is a good choice) and are made of at least two layers of material. The mask should cover your nose and mouth, should fit securely with no gaps and should feel comfortable. Non-medical masks also should not have any holes or valves that are open to air, as any opening can allow respiratory droplets to escape from the mask and enable the spread of COVID-19.

If you choose to make your own non-medical mask, Health Canada has developed sew and no-sew patterns for making masks at home.

Non-medical masks may not provide adequate protection from germs if they are not made of the materials recommended above or because they are loose fitting or not worn properly. As well, they can become damaged or the fabric can break down with time or with washing, which will reduce the usefulness of a non-medical mask.

Accessories that keep you from losing your mask, such as a lanyard to wear your mask around your neck when not in use, are not recommended as wearing a mask anywhere but properly secured around your nose and mouth (such as around your neck, from one ear or pulled down under your nose) contaminates the mask and encourages the wearer to touch, adjust and move the mask unnecessarily. When you’re not wearing your mask, store it in a clean, breathable bag or container, such as an envelope or paper bag.

Remember, do not touch your mask while wearing it. Change your mask whenever it gets moist, dirty or damaged and launder with hot water or as directed by manufacturer before re-use.

Children, especially younger kids, should wear masks with ear loops rather than strings or ties as these can present a choking hazard.




Who should wear a non-medical mask


Most people, even those with an underlying medical condition, can safely wear a mask. There’s no evidence that wearing a mask will worsen an underlying medical condition and, for example, an individual with asthma or a heart condition can safely wear a mask in most situations.

Like any new routine, practice will help you feel more comfortable and confident. Try using a non-medical mask at home first, and then slowly increase how long you wear it until you can follow provincial guidance on proper mask use. If you are concerned about your ability to safely wear a mask, speak with your health care provider.

However, anyone who cannot wear a mask properly should not wear one. This includes people who are:

  • unable to put on or take off the mask without assistance (for example, due to age, ability or developmental status);
  • actively having breathing difficulties; or
  • children under the age of five.

Non-medical masks are not like personal protective equipment (PPE) that doctors, nurses and other health care personnel wear. PPE used in healthcare, such as medical masks, must pass standards and regulations to be used, and staff are trained how to use them properly. Those provided with PPE should wear it instead of a non-medical mask.




Mask guidance for workplaces


For workplaces where physical distancing is not possible, workers should consider wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), particularly masks, to protect staff and clients or customers. Employers and employees are encouraged to consult their organization’s worker safety and health committee or representative when developing mask policies. Resources and guidance for workplaces can be found on the SAFE Work Manitoba’s website: https://www.safemanitoba.com/COVID-19/. Further information can also be found on the Government of Canada’s website at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/about-non-medical-masks-face-coverings.html#a11.





Mask Questions and Answers


Masks help prevent COVID-19 from spreading through close contact (within two metres of six feet) by reducing the spread of respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing, talking, etc. Wearing a non-medical mask can protect people around you from your respiratory droplets, and may also protect you from the respiratory droplets of others.

How well a non-medical masks works to protect you and others depends on the materials used, how the mask as is made, and how well it fits. The Public Health Agency of Canada has detailed information on the proper materials, structure and fit for non-medical masks.


Yes. Wearing a non-medical mask alone will not stop the spread of COVID-19, but is another tool to stop the spread in addition to practicing public health fundamentals like staying home when sick, practicing proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette and physical distancing.


No. All Manitobans should stay home if they are sick unless seeking urgent medical care or COVID-19 testing. In these situations, you should wear a non-medical mask, maintain physical distancing, and practice proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Afterwards, you should immediately return home and continue self-isolating.


When a mask isn’t worn properly, it won’t prevent the spread of COVID-19 and could actually put the person wearing it at greater risk of infection if it has been contaminated if improperly handled. We recommend following all the steps listed under How to properly use a non-medical mask to ensure proper mask use to keep yourself and others safe.


Masks should be changed if they become damp, dirty, soiled or contaminated; for example, if they come in contact with the wearer's hands when not washed or sanitized. Disposable masks should be thrown in the garbage after one-time use.


Face shields helmet shields serve as eye protection and should not take the place of masks because they don’t cover your mouth. The use of face shields is being evaluated but their effectiveness is unknown at this time. 


You should continue to wear a mask. The vaccine will protect you from getting ill from COVID-19, but we don’t know whether you could still carry the virus and be able to spread it to others. Wearing a mask can reduce this risk of spreading the virus to others.

You should also continue to stay home if you’re sick, practice physical distancing, wash your hands and keep practicing good cough and hand hygiene.