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Face Coverings/Masks

Face coverings are now mandatory

July 6, 2020 – Today local health units announced a regional approach to mandatory masks. In Leeds, Grenville and Lanark, this Instruction will require businesses to adopt a policy to ensure facial coverings/masks are worn inside enclosed public spaces. This will come into effect July 7, at 12:01am. This is an added measure to the existing public health measures in place, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We kindly ask that you read our recent media release for a better understanding.

  • It is made of at least two layers of tightly woven material. You can test out the fabric by trying to blow out a candle with it on. If you can, then it is too thin.
  • It can be cleaned multiple times without losing its shape.
  • Fits securely with ties or ear loops.
  • Allows for easy breathing. Make sure it is not made of plastic or other non-breathable materials.
  • Includes a pocket to accommodate a paper towel or disposable coffee filter for increased benefit.
  • Has a different fabric on each side to easily identify which side faces your mouth and which side is out.

Check out Health Canada’s ‘Sew’ and ‘No Sew’ instructions.

There are also some DIY instructions here.

Note: Some commercially available masks have exhalation valves that make the mask more breathable for the person wearing it, but these valves also allow infectious respiratory droplets to spread outside the mask. 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.

Disposable Non-medical Face Masks

Disposable non-medical face masks may be worn instead of a cloth face covering. These masks are single use masks and should be put in the garbage after use.

When worn properly, a cloth face covering can reduce the spread of your own infectious respiratory droplets.

  • Wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off.
  • Make sure it fits to cover your nose and mouth, without any gaps.
  • Don’t touch your face or face covering while wearing it.
  • Use your own face covering and don’t share it with others.
  • Clean surfaces that a dirty face covering touches.
  • Wash your re-usable face covering when slightly wet or dirty.
    • Put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine.
    • Wash with other items using a hot cycle with laundry detergent and dry thoroughly. Using Shared Laundry Facilities Fact Sheet.
    • Wash your hands afterwards
  • Children under the age of two
  • Individuals with medical conditions that make them unable to safely wear a mask, including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties
  • Anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance.

DISCLAIMER: Local residents and vendors have identified themselves to us by email or social media to compile this list. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit does not endorse any particular producer or vendor of cloth masks, nor can we ensure that any vendor is able to maintain stock of these products. We are not liable if there are any issues related to the vendor or the purchased product. This list is provided as a convenience to help keep everyone safe and to comply with indoor public-space mask requirements. If you are aware of other cloth face covering producers that are not currently listed on our page, please let us know at contact@healthunit.org.

List of Leeds and Grenville Producers/Vendors

List of Lanark County Producers/Vendors

Free and Low-Cost Face Coverings:

If you or someone you know needs a free or low cost face covering, there are organizations working to help. Contact the one for your area.

Lanark County and Smiths Falls

  • Facing Forward: For information on how to obtain free or low costs masks for those most in need in Lanark County and Smiths Falls under United Way East Ontario’s Facing Forward program, please contact Ramsey Hart at the Table in Perth – 613-267-6428 extension 8. A special thank you to The Table for coordinating the distribution in our communities! 
  • If you wish to purchase cloth masks (minimum order of 25 masks) please go to Facing Forward. Proceeds from purchases of these cloth masks will provide masks to those most in need in our communities in Lanark County and Smiths Falls.
  • Almonte and area: Carebridge Community Support – email Jeff jmills@carebridge.ca

Leeds/Grenville

Frequently Asked Questions

As more businesses and public spaces open and people increase their contacts, the risk of a rapid rise in infections and outbreaks is ever-present.

Increasing scientific evidence supports wearing a mask when in enclosed public spaces as an important measure in reducing COVID-19 transmission, while the risk of rising rates of infection continues.

Here is a very thorough summary of the evidence behind face coverings/masks from Public Health Ontario.

Our public health partners at Toronto Public Health have summarized the evidence in this document. In addition, you can find evidence on this site: https://masks4canada.org/

This instruction will be reviewed September 30, 2020 based on the best available evidence and current spread of COVID-19 in our region.

As more businesses and public spaces open and people increase their contacts, the risk of a rapid rise in infections and outbreaks is ever-present.

“Mask” means: a cloth (non-medical) mask, medical mask or other face coverings, (e.g., bandana, a scarf or cloth), for filtering respiratory droplets that securely covers the nose, mouth, and chin and is in contact with the surrounding face without gapping.

As of July 7, 2020 at 12:01am, it will be required that individuals wear a mask in “Enclosed Public Space”, which means indoor public spaces accessed by the public.

Enclosed Public Space include but are not limited to:

  • restaurants, cafés, cafeterias, banquet halls;
  • retail establishments and shopping malls;
  • churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, or other places of worship;
  • libraries, museums, art galleries, recreational facilities, bingo halls, community centres and halls, cinemas, theatres, concert venues, special event venues, convention centers, or other similar entertainment, cultural, or leisure facilities;
  • sports facilities, sports clubs, gyms, yoga studios, dance studios, and stadiums;
  • common areas of hotels, motels, or short-term rental premises such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms, rest rooms, laundry rooms, gyms, and kitchens;
  • public and private transportation including municipal buses, taxis, and rideshare services
  • common areas of premises under the control of a regulated health professional under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 18, as amended, such as waiting rooms;
  • common areas of hospitals and independent health facilities such as lobbies, food courts and retail establishments;
  • spas, hair salons, barbers, nail salons, and other personal service settings that are subject to health and safety protocols provided by the Province of Ontario during the provincial emergency;
  • municipal public spaces.

What is not considered an ‘Enclosed Public Space’?

The following are not considered an Enclosed Public Space:

  • Spaces subject to provincial and/or local public health guidance:
    • Schools under the Education Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.2, as amended;
    • Child care centres and providers governed by the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, S.O. 2014, c. 11, as amended;
    • Day camps.
  • Offices not open to the public including professional offices where clients receive services not open to public (e.g., lawyer, accountant)

There are many individuals and businesses that are selling cloth face coverings in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark. Please click the tab above “Where to get a cloth face covering in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark” to find a mask producer near you.

If you or someone you know needs a free or low cost face covering, there are organizations working to help. Contact the one for your area.

Lanark County and Smiths Falls

  • Facing Forward: For information on how to obtain free or low costs masks for those most in need in Lanark County and Smiths Falls under United Way East Ontario’s Facing Forward program, please contact Ramsey Hart at the Table in Perth – 613-267-6428 extension 8. A special thank you to The Table for coordinating the distribution in our communities!
  • If you wish to purchase cloth masks (minimum order of 25 masks) please go to Facing Forward. Proceeds from purchases of these cloth masks will provide masks to those most in need in our communities in Lanark County and Smiths Falls.
  • Almonte and area: Carebridge Community Support – email Jeff jmills@carebridge.ca

Leeds/Grenville

Every Operator of an Enclosed Public Space will have a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the enclosed public space unless he or she is wearing a mask in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin.

People in an Enclosed Public Space who remove their mask for extended periods of time, will receive a verbal reminder of the requirement to wear a mask under these instructions.

Every Operator of an Enclosed Public Space will have a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the enclosed public space unless he or she is wearing a mask in a manner that securely covers their nose, mouth and chin.

Employees and operators will provide a verbal reminder to any customer entering the premises without a mask that the customer should be wearing a mask as a result of this directive.

Implementation of the policy will be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and will be primarily used as a means to educate people on mask use in public spaces.

Face coverings/masks should not be worn by:

  • Children under two years of age, or children under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally who refuse to wear a mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver
  • Individuals with medical conditions that make them unable to safely wear a mask, including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties.
  • Anyone who is unable to remove the mask without help

There may be situations where someone who is deaf or hard of hearing that may require an employee to remove their face covering to speak to the customer. We remind anyone removing their face covering to follow safe handling procedures and to keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) away from others.

No person shall be required to provide proof of any of the exemptions.

*Note: exemption cards have been circulating on social media. These are not valid as proof is NOT required.

There may be situations where someone who is deaf or hard of hearing that may require an employee to remove their face covering to speak to the customer. We remind anyone removing their face covering to follow safe handling procedures and to keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) away from others.

Additionally, for those with hearing impairments, our friends at Ottawa Public Health have shared these videos on COVID-19 resources using ASL.

A face shield is not a substitute for wearing a face mask as it does not filter respiratory droplets. A face shield may provide additional protection for the wearer against droplets expelled from another person, however these droplets may still be inhaled around the shield. Respiratory droplets expelled by the wearer may escape around the sides of the face shield, which therefore provides less protection to others. If you choose to wear a face shield, we recommend – if possible – to wear it in addition to a properly fitted cloth masks.

While a face shield is not a substitute for a mask, it might be worn by someone who is unable to wear a mask due to breathing or cognitive difficulties, as it would be better than wearing nothing.

Individuals with medical conditions rendering them unable to safely wear a mask, including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties can be exempt from wearing a mask.

Since we don’t know enough yet about immunity to COVID-19 and re-infection, it is required that everyone (with the exception of a few exemptions) follow the current instruction, which is to wear a facial covering/mask in enclosed public spaces.  As the evidence emerges on re-infection,these guidelines may change.

Members of the public are permitted the temporary removal of a mask where necessary for the purpose of:

  • receiving services (including eating or drinking when dine-in services are allowed) or
  • while actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity including water-based activities.

If dining indoors, you are required to wear a face covering/mask when entering, leaving, and whenever you get up from the table (to go to the washroom). However, it is courteous to those around you (especially staff) if you are able to also keep it on whenever you are not eating or drinking.

If dining outdoors on a patio, you still must wear a face covering if you enter the establishment (in order to access the patio, to use the washrooms, or to pay). It is recommended to wear a face covering whenever physical distancing is a challenge. This could include when walking past other tables, and when your server is at the table since it is quite challenging to take orders, place and clear dishes from 2 meters away. #IProtectYouYouProtectMe

For fitness facilities, you must wear a face covering when you are not exercising (when entering, using the washrooms or changing facilities, or stopping to chat).  You may remove your face covering when participating in fitness activities as facilities should have measures in place to separate participants by barrier or physical space. 

Mask wearing cannot guarantee protection from the virus and should always be done in addition to measures such as frequent handwashing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, practicing physical distancing and staying at home if you are sick.

To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, everyone should:

  • Stay home if you are sick or have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Limit your close contacts (social circles)
  • Avoid large groups of people and crowded spaces
  • Maintain physical distance (at least two metres or six feet) whenever possible
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with tissues or your sleeve and wash your hands immediately after.

Cloth masks can be re-used throughout the day if not soiled and undamaged. With clean hands, remove the mask from your face and fold it in half so that the outer surface is inwards (so that the contaminated outer surface is not contacting anything during storage) and place it in a clean, sealable bag or container until ready to use it again the same day. Wash or sanitize your hands again when done. Disposable masks should not be washed, reused or recycled.

Wearing a cloth mask can increase your risk of infection if you touch your face more frequently to adjust it or if you do not wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off. All parts of cloth masks can become contaminated by breathing or when touched by your hands.

Cloth masks become contaminated, especially when touched by your hands. When taking off a cloth mask, follow these steps:

  • After washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, remove your mask by pulling the ties or ear loops away from your ears.
  • If your mask has a removable, non-reusable filter, make sure to remove and throw out the filter before machine or hand- washing your mask.
  • For machine washing, put the mask directly into the washing machine or in a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine. Throw out the bag after you have used it to store your mask. If the bag is washable you can wash it with your mask. Wash your hands again with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after handling your mask.
  • Wash the masks with other laundry using a hot water cycle. 
  • For hand washing, use laundry detergent and water as hot as you can stand, then dry thoroughly.
  • When discarding damaged or worn out masks, drop them in a lined garbage bin.
  • Do not leave any discarded masks in places where others can come in contact with them such as shopping carts, public seats, bus stops or on the ground.

Cloth masks can be re-used throughout the day if not soiled or damaged. With clean hands, remove the mask from your face and fold it in half so that the outer surface is inwards (so that the contaminated outer surface is not contacting anything during storage) and place it in a clean container or plastic bag until ready to use it again the same day. Wash or sanitize your hands when done. Storing your mask in a breathable container that can be cleaned and sanitized between uses can reduce bacterial growth.

Wash your face covering when slightly wet or dirty.

For hand washing, use laundry detergent and water as hot as you can stand, then dry thoroughly.

Disposable masks should not be washed, reused or recycled. Once used, they should be thrown away immediately into a lined garbage bin.

Face Coverings and Masks for Businesses

Implementation of the policy will be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and will be primarily used as a means to educate people on mask use in public spaces.

There will be an education period following the enactment of the directive where only warnings will be issued.

The directive outlines the requirements in a letter to businesses and operators.

The policy requires that employees and agents wear a mask when working in the public areas of the enclosed public space unless the employee or agent is within or behind a physical barrier or is in an area of the premises that is not designated for public access.

Scientists and food safety authorities around the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 being spread through food. (according to WHO, CDC and Health Canada). The primary way this virus is thought to spread is person-to-person through respiratory droplets when someone coughs, sneezes, or talks.

Food service workers are trained in safe food handling and are required to have a hand sink for regular hand washing. They may require a mask if they are not able to maintain physical distancing from others in their  workplace based on the requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Many cooks work in very hot environments near ovens so the mask can pose health and safety concerns for them in these conditions. The concern about COVID-19 spread should be focused on close and extended person to person contact. This is why we recommend wearing masks when spending time in close contact with others.

Gloves are not recommended for general practice. Food handling is not a sterile procedure. Regular hand washing is very effective. Gloves can also carry germs and people are less likely to wash hands appropriately (e.g., before putting them on and after taking them off and throughout the day as needed) when wearing them due to a false sense of security. If you have a cut or infection on your hand, a bandage should be worn to cover it and a glove should be worn over the bandaged hand until the cut or infection heals. Continue hand washing as usual before putting on and removing the glove. Gloves should be changed between jobs and before ready to eat food.

Implementation of the mandatory mask policy should be enacted and enforced by the Operator of an Enclosed Public Space in ‘good faith’ and should be primarily used as a means to educate people on cloth face covering/mask use in public spaces. If you see individuals or a business not complying with the instruction, your options include:

  • Kindly and politely remind the individual that wearing a cloth face covering/mask is mandatory in Enclosed Public Spaces. If the individual indicates they qualify for an exemption to the mandatory cloth face covering/mask policy, it is best to believe them, do not judge, and continue to be kind and courteous.
  • Kindly and politely remind the business Operator that wearing a cloth face covering/mask (some exceptions apply) and enforcing the cloth face covering/mask policy is mandatory in Enclosed Public Spaces.
  • NOTE: this is not a forum for complaints towards individuals. Let’s extend kindness to others, not judge, and continue to be responsible for our own behaviours.

As per the Public Health Instruction, “Every Operator of an Enclosed Public Space shall adopt a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the Enclosed Public Space unless he or she is wearing a Face Covering/Mask in a manner that securely covers their nose, mouth and chin.”

In the event that a person enters your business premises without a face covering/mask, you can kindly remind the person that they must wear a face covering/mask in your business premises, and then there are 3 scenarios that could occur:

  1. The person puts on a face covering/mask and can enter your business premises.
  2. The person indicates they qualify for an exemption as per the Public Health Instruction. Kindly allow the person to enter your business premises without a face covering/mask. Do not ask any follow-up questions. No person shall be required to provide proof of any of the exemptions.
  3. The person indicates they do not qualify for an exemption as per the Public Health Instruction and refuses to put on a face covering/mask. Remind the person to bring a face covering/mask the next time they come as this is now required. Some businesses provide masks for sale for this kind of situation.
    We are all in the fight against COVID-19 together. It is so important that we all protect each other’s health and do everything we can to ensure our local businesses can continue to operate safely for everyone.

We kindly ask that everyone acts in good faith regarding the mandatory face covering/mask Instruction. Wearing a face covering/mask in Enclosed Public Spaces is an important tool, in addition to staying home when sick and getting tested, maintaining at least 2 metres/6 feet physical distancing, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, covering your coughs and sneezes, and avoiding touching your face, in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Regardless of whether someone is wearing a face covering/mask or not, please treat everyone with respect and courtesy. For more information, please read the Rationale for the mandatory face covering/mask decision.

The Public Health Instruction is requiring Operators to do the following:

  • Post signage in your premises to advise the public of face covering/mask requirements.
  • Have alcohol-based hand sanitizer available for use at all entrances and exits.
  • Remind customers of the mandatory face covering/mask requirement. As per the Instruction, implementation of the policy should be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and should be primarily used as a means to educate people on face covering/mask use in Enclosed Public Spaces.

We are not asking Operators to refuse or confront customers.

As per the Public Health Instruction, a business Operator shall not refuse any person entry into their business premises if the person claims they qualify for an exemption, as per the Public Health Instruction, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or who have protections under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.19, as amended.

No person shall be required to provide proof of any of the exemptions.

At this time, Operators are encouraged to use an educational approach to encourage all people entering to use a face covering/mask. 

As per the Trespass to Property Act, an Operator can refuse entry and/or service. If they do so in violation of other legislation, including but not limited to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.19, as amended, there may be consequences (e.g., a violation of human rights claim).

*NOTE: Businesses are complying with this instruction to protect the health of their customers, staff and our community. Finding ways to work together so we can all get through this difficult time is important. If you feel you are being denied service, reach out to the business to see if there are alternative ways to interact (e.g., curbside pick-up).