The province of Ontario is echoing the recommendation of the country’s top doctor.  Premier Doug Ford said while physical distancing, hand washing, and wiping down frequently used surfaces remain the best line of defence for protecting against COVID-19, he did say that where staying 2metres (6 feet) apart is not possible then a non-medical mask should be worn.

Ford also reiterated that emergency orders are still in place that limits gatherings to a maximum of five people. That has been extended to the end of May.

Ford warned the province’s COVID-19 command table is keeping a close eye on the trends, watching the rate of spread and watching closely for any sudden surges or flareups saying, “I am fully prepared to roll things back if necessary.”

Earlier today Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam recommended the use of non-medical masks where physical distancing is not possible.  As well, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, and other health experts are recommending that individuals wear a face-covering where physical distancing is not possible, such as on public transit or in a small grocery store or pharmacy.

In order to assist people and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health released the following face-covering recommendations:

  • Wear your face covering safely and snugly to cover your nose and mouth, without any gaps. Ensure your face covering is made of at least two layers of tightly-woven material and can be cleaned multiple times without losing its shape;
  • Medical masks, such as surgical and N95 masks, should be reserved for use by health care workers, those providing direct care, first responders and individuals who are ill and must leave their home for essential reasons such as seeking medical care, picking up medication or groceries;
  • Face coverings should not be placed on or used by children under the age of two; anyone who has trouble breathing; and anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance.

Minister of Transportation, Christine Mulroney also announced a list of recommendations for public transit providers and passengers.  Mulroney says everyone using public transit should wear a non-medical face covering.  She also released guidelines for transit providers which include:

  • Physical distancing of at least two metres by admitting fewer passengers and using physical markers between seats;
  • The use of face coverings, particularly when physical distancing is not feasible;
  • Ensuring the availability of alcohol-based hand rub upon entering and exiting the vehicle;
  • Implementing engineering controls like plexiglass windows between drivers and passengers; and
  • Enhanced cleaning, particularly of high-touch surfaces.