Novel Coronavirus COVID-19
 

Mask Guidance for Manitobans


Respiratory droplets and aerosols are made when we do every day things like talk, cough, breathe, sneeze, or sing. The virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from person to person through respiratory droplets and aerosols from someone infected with the virus.

Masks are no longer required to be worn in indoor public spaces in Manitoba. However, individuals may choose to wear a mask based on personal preference. You can reduce the spread of respiratory droplets and aerosols and decrease your risk of becoming infected by properly wearing a well-made, well-fitting mask.


On this page:


Who should wear a mask

Wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the spread of respiratory droplets and aerosols. Well-fitting, well-made masks can help reduce the spread of the virus.

  • You may choose to wear a mask in any setting based on your personal risk assessment or preference.
  • Consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor settings where you may come into close contact with people you do not know or normally interact with.
  • Masks are recommended for individuals at higher risk of severe illness, particularly if they are in a crowded indoor setting, or for everyone in a setting where there are many people who are at higher risk for severe disease. For example, healthcare facilities and personal care homes may continue to require mask use.
  • Individuals who are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19 should wear a mask if they need to leave their home or have contact with others for 10 days after their symptoms started or if they have no symptoms, 10 days after the date of the positive test.
  • Individuals caring for someone who is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19 should wear a 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.

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

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



How to properly use a 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. Reusable masks must be washed (with hot water or as directed by the manufacturer) and dried thoroughly before using.
  • Before use, check the mask to make sure there are no rips or holes. Dispose of the mask if damaged.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer before touching your mask.
  • Use the loops or ties to place the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it.
  • Adjust the mask by the loops or ties if needed to ensure your nose and mouth are fully covered. Ensure the mask fits well across the face (covers the mouth, nose and chin) and has no gaps.
  • Press and mold any wiring over your nose with clean hands.
  • Then, wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer again.
  • Avoid touching the mask and your face while wearing it.
  • Don’t hang the mask from your neck or ears or under your chin.

Safely removing your mask

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer before removing your mask.
  • Handle the mask with the loops or ties when removing.
  • If your mask is a reusable mask, fold the outer parts of the mask together and place in a clean, breathable bag or container, such as an envelope or paper bag, to store.  Do not hang from a hook, rearview mirror, in a pocket or purse. These are not safe places to store your mask and could contaminate the mask. 
  • Place disposable mask in the garbage.

Wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer after removing your mask.

While wearing your mask, if it becomes wet or damaged, you should replace it as soon as you are able to. Masks that are wet or damaged are not effective.

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. Wearing a mask around your neck, from one ear or pulled down under your nose contaminates the mask and puts you at risk of infection.




What type of mask to choose

All types of masks can help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus if they are well-made and fit well. In general, non-medical masks, medical masks and respirators can all be used in the community based on personal preference.

No matter what type of mask you choose, it is important to choose one that is well-made, well-fitting, that is comfortable and that you can wear without frequent adjustments or touching your face.

Ensure the mask fits well across the face (covers the mouth, nose and chin) and has no gaps. The mask that fits your face well and that you are able to wear consistently is the right mask for you.

There may be requirements for specific mask type in certain environments such as the hospital, but the recommendations on this page are about general settings.

Regardless of the type of mask you choose, the mask should not have any holes or valves. These can allow respiratory droplets and aerosols to escape from the mask and enable the spread of COVID-19.

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


Medical masks are also recommended for:

  • individuals who have tested positive for or have symptoms of COVID-19 and are isolating in a location where there are other people who have not tested positive or do not have symptoms
  • individuals caring for someone who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19
  • individuals who are at higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19 may consider wearing a medical mask instead of a non-medical mask in addition to following other public health recommendations.

You can also visit the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) website for more information, including posters, on how to choose, use, and care for a mask as well as how to make your mask fit properly.


Non-Medical Masks

When choosing a non-medical mask, a few things to consider include material, construction, and fit. These factors are important to how well a non-medical mask can help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Non-medical masks may either be disposable or reusable.

Look for a non-medical mask made of tightly-woven breathable material; cotton or linen is a good choice. The non-medical mask should be made of at least three layers which includes two layers of tightly-woven breathable material and a middle filter layer. For more information of what kind of material or filter are recommended, see the section on Materials and construction - non‑medical masks on PHAC’s webpage https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/about-non-medical-masks-face-coverings.html#a2. While few non-medical masks provide information about how effective they are at filtering germs like viruses, proper fit is very important in how well a mask works.


Medical Masks

Medical masks are also known as procedure or surgical masks. To be labelled as a medical mask, it must meet international regulatory standards which include particle and bacterial filtration, breathability, fluid resistance, and flammability of materials.

Medical masks that are recommended by Health Canada are labelled as meeting one of the following standards:

  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F2100 - Levels 1, 2, or 3
  • European (EN) 14683 - Type IIR

When looking for a medical mask, look on the box label for these. Medical masks come in a variety of sizes and it is important to make sure the one you choose fits well.


Respirators

Respirators are designed to fit closer to the face. This may allow for a better fit than other mask types, but this depends on the shape of your face, hair, and respirator size and design. The respirator should fit well to the face with no gaps.

When looking for a respirator, make sure it has been approved by Health Canada. Depending on the type of respirator, there are standards that it should meet and these should be marked on the product. For example, NIOSH N95 respirators should have a number stamped on the respirator and looks like TC-84A-####n. For more information on other types of respirators that meet Health Canada approval and the marking to look for, see https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/types-masks-respirators.html.

Respirators that are issued as PPE to workers in workplaces are subject to the provisions of the CSA Standard Z94.4 and require that workers are tested to assure an acceptable fit is achieved for the model of respirator selected. A summary of the standard provisions is available at https://www.safemanitoba.com.