COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)

Frequently asked questions for non-medical face coverings and masks

What should I look for when choosing a mask?

Non-medical masks or face coverings should:
•  fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
•  maintain their shape after washing and drying
•  be made of at least two layers of tightly woven material (such as cotton or linen)
• be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping

Can I purchase a non-medical mask for myself or a loved one?

Check with local retailers or on social media. Many businesses/entrepreneurs are selling/donating non-medical masks.

When you have chosen a supplier, check with them to make sure they used mask making guidance from a credible source.

Where can I get supplies to make my own mask?

Local or online fabric supply stores.

How to Make Your Own Face Covering – Government of Canada

I can’t wear a mask for medical reasons – how can I get the services I need?

The mandatory provincial orders have exemptions for health accommodations. You do not need to wear a face covering if you:
• have a medical condition that inhibits your ability to wear a face covering
• are unable to put on or remove your face covering without help from someone else
• are receiving accommodations according to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 or the Human Rights Code

No “proof” is required for exemption. Most face covering policies and by-laws share similar exemptions. Many businesses and public settings support curbside pickup, delivery or other options for those who cannot wear a mask in the store.

How will mask policies be enforced?

This depends on the setting and whether the policy is in the form of a by-law or other legal requirement such as a provincial regulation. Most settings rely on educating people so they know what the rules are, and expect that most people will follow the rules. If someone refuses to comply without a valid reason, they could be asked to leave the location. By-laws or Provincial Orders can be enforced by stronger methods including warnings and fines for patrons or business operators, but with an “education first” approach to enforcement, this would usually only happen in situations where there was blatant disregard for the rules. Visit our Enforcement page for more details.

I hear a lot about people using face coverings incorrectly. How can I use a face covering most effectively?

Our video will show you the most effective way to use your face covering. Remember – always carry your mask in a clean plastic bag when not in use. And always keep it clean – wash cloth face coverings regularly.

I’m confused about where I should and shouldn’t wear a mask in Lambton County. Can you clarify?

The mandatory provincial face covering orders apply across Ontario, and therefore apply everywhere in Lambton County. Municipalities may have additional bylaws that also remain in effect. Learn more by visiting the following sites:
• Provincial orders: Ontario.ca
• Mandatory mask by-laws in Lambton County: City of Sarnia, Lambton Shores, Town of Petrolia, Village of Point Edward, and all Personal Service Settings.

Are face shields a substitute for a mask or face covering?

A face shield is not a substitute for wearing a mask. Face shields cannot filter the wearer’s respiratory droplets and their large openings allow respiratory droplets to escape. Review our FAQ on what to look for when choosing a face covering and learn how to wear them properly.

Face shields may be used in addition to a mask or face covering. Face shields may provide eye protection to protect the wearer from another person’s droplets

I can’t wear a mask. Should I wear a face shield?

Face shields are not a substitute for a mask as they do not provide the same level of protection to others as a face covering (see previous FAQ). However, they may be considered by individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that face shields may be better than nothing in this circumstance. 

If a face shield is worn, it should cover the entire face, wrap around the sides of the face and extend below the chin. Continue practicing physical distancing when possible due to face shield limitations.

Please note, for workplaces such as Personal Service Settings and Food Premises, Lambton Public Health does not consider face shields an acceptable replacement for a face covering or mask for employees.

Are masks with valves recommended?

The Public Health Agency of Canada stated that masks with exhalation valves are not recommended, because they don’t protect others from COVID-19 and don’t limit the spread of the virus. Review our FAQ on what to look for when choosing a face covering and learn how to wear them properly.

Are plastic masks/ face shields recommended?

The Public Health Agency of Canada stated that masks should not be made of plastic or other non-breathable materials. Therefore plastic masks or mouth shields are not recommended. Review our FAQ on what to look for when choosing a face covering and learn how to wear them properly.