Wearing Face Masks Keeps us all Safer

Updated August 4th, 2020

More and more wearing non-medical masks in public spaces is becoming the new normal, especially in indoor spaces where it’s difficult to maintain physical distancing. In some setting masks are now mandatory and increasingly businesses are now asking the public to wear masks. In health regions or specific locations with high numbers of active COVID-19 cases, the Province’s pandemic response system may make masks mandatory along with some specific restrictions. To find out if your region is affected see the Province’s Pandemic Response System.

As of Monday September 28, 2020 Winnipeg and surrounding areas are currently in the orange “restricted” zone.

Individuals in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region must:

  • Wear a mask in all indoor public places.
  • Limit gatherings to a maximum of 10 people indoors and outdoors.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Practice social distancing, hand washing/sanitizing and cough etiquette.
  • Follow public health guidance on travel and self-isolation.
  • Vulnerable people, such as seniors, are encouraged to exercise additional caution.

Previous provisions in place for all other sectors in this region remain in place. Further direction or additional restrictions may put in place by public health at any time.

How does a mask help to reduce the spread of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is spread by droplets that can spray into the air when those who are infected talk, sing, cough, sneeze, spit and breathe heavily. One way you can protect those around you is by wearing a mask. Mask wearing is another way of covering your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from spreading to others or landing on surfaces. While masks have not been proven to protect the person wearing one, when worn by many people in the community they offer another layer of protection.

When do we need wear a non-medical or cloth mask?

Health care
  • In Manitoba, all health-care facilities require visitors, support persons, and anyone attending a medical appointment to wear a non-medical mask.
  • When attending other health care appointments (massage therapy, physiotherapy).
Daycares and Schools
  • All early learning and child care staff, including home-based child care providers, are advised to wear non-medical masks when caring for children of any age, when physical distancing is not possible.
  • In Manitoba, children in grade 3 or under are not required to wear a non-medical mask while at school or at their child care facility.
    • Parents/guardians may choose to have their younger child(ren) wear a mask, provided the child can wear it properly. See section below on how to wear a mask.
  • In Manitoba, all children in grade 4 (aged 8/9) and higher are required to wear non-medical masks at school and while attending child care facilities, when physical distancing of two metres is not possible.
  • Masks are required on school buses for students of all ages, bus drivers and any other passengers.
  • It is the parent/guardian’s responsibility to provide masks daily for each child.

Hot Safety Tip:
  • Masks should be removed for physical activity and active play including play structures/equipment.

Recommendations can change, for the most up to date information see Province of Manitoba, Education

Out and about, masks should be worn: 
  • In public settings when staying two metres (six feet) away from others may be challenging
  • In all City of Winnipeg facilities
  • When using public transportation or riding in vehicles with others
  • When receiving personal care services where physical distancing is not possible (haircut, pedicure)
Hot safety tip:

Non-medical masks are not recommended for:

  • children under 2 because it is a safety concern
  • children under the age 5, because they may not be able to wear it properly
  • those who have difficulty breathing,
  • people who suffer from an illness or disability that make it difficult to use a mask.

Remember kindness is important as some people may not be able to wear a mask or face covering.

Wearing a mask is only one part of slowing the spread of COVID-19. We still all need to follow public health recommendations:

How to safely choose and use a face mask

Knowing how to choose, wear and clean a mask properly is critical to everyone’s safety. A poor fitting or improperly worn mask will not protect others from respiratory droplets and can increase the wearer’s risk of getting an infection.

Choosing a face mask:

  • Style – You can buy disposable face masks or you can buy or make reusable cloth face masks.
    • If choosing a cloth mask, it should have at least two layers of tightly woven material such as cotton or linen.
    • When choosing a mask for your child keep in mind that ear loops are safer than head/neck ties.
    • Do not use the following products because they allow respiratory droplets to escape and do not decrease the spread of COVID-19.
      • scarves, bandannas, neck fleeces and gaiters
      • masks that have holes or valves
  • Fit –The mask should cover the nose, mouth and chin with no gaps. It should fit snuggly but comfortably against the sides of the face.  Some masks are adjustable to make them fit securely.
Hot Safety Tip:
  • Some social media posts and retailers suggest using lanyards that go around the child’s neck and tie to the ear loops of the mask to keep the child from losing or misplacing it. They are not recommended because dangling a mask from one’s neck contaminates the mask, encourages the wearer to touch, adjust, and/or move the mask unnecessarily and may pose a strangulation risk to your child.

How to use a mask

Putting it on
  • Your mask should be clean, dry and has not previously been used by others.
  • Clean your hands before touching the mask
    • wash with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds
    • use hand sanitizer with a minimum 60 per cent alcohol base.
  • Keeping your hair away from your face, place the mask over your nose and mouth and secure to ears or head.
    • Adjust if needed to ensure nose and mouth are fully covered.
    • Clean your hands again
Wearing your mask
  • Avoid touching your mask while wearing it.
    • If you touch your mask, wash your hands.
  • When your mask becomes damp or dirty it needs to be replaced.

Taking off your mask
  • Clean your hands before touching the mask
    • wash with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds
    • use hand sanitizer with a minimum 60 per cent alcohol base
  • Remove your mask by grabbing the ear loops or ties. Avoid touching the front of the mask, which may have the virus/germs on it.
    • Reusable masks should be placed in a paper bag or envelope labeled dirty until it can be washed.
    • Disposable masks should be thrown directly into the garbage.
  • Clean your hands again
Caring for your masks
  • Wash masks in a washing machine using a hot cycle and dry them thoroughly. They can be washed with other household laundry.
  • If a washing machine is not available, wash masks thoroughly by hand using soap and warm/hot water. Allow masks to dry completely before wearing again.
Hot safety tip
  • Do not share masks between family members or others

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