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Face Covering By-law

Face Coverings are Required

Wear a face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19

How to wear a face covering

Niagara Region's face covering by-law (By-law 2020-46) aligns with orders issued by the province. Where any requirements differ, the requirements of the provincial order prevail.

Niagara's by-law will expire when the province lifts its order for face coverings.


Not everyone can wear a mask and many disabilities are invisible. People don't have to prove their condition or disability.

Be kind and respectful to people who can't wear a mask. We're in this together and this is one more way we can help to protect each other.

The by-law provides exemptions for:

  • A person who is unable to wear a face covering as a result of a medical condition or a disability
  • A person who is unable to remove the face covering without help
  • A person who would have their breathing inhibited or restricted by wearing a face covering
  • A person while consuming food or drink provided by a business that is permitted to operate
  • A person receiving services involving the face
  • A person engaged in sport or other strenuous physical activity
  • A person while helping or accommodating another person with a hearing disability
  • Individuals working in an enclosed public space that isn't open for public access
  • Individuals working behind a physical barrier
  • Children aged two or younger as per O. Reg. 364/20 Rules for Areas in Stage 3

Information for residents and businesses

Wearing a face covering isn't a replacement for other health measures. The most effective measures to protect yourself and those around you is to always be mindful of your health. If you get sick, stay home and get tested. Continue to maintain a two metre physical distance from others, wear a face covering if you cannot maintain a physical distance, and frequently clean or sanitize your hands.

  • Where a face covering is required

    Face coverings are required in:

    • Retail stores where goods and services are sold to customers
    • Businesses that primarily sell food, including restaurants, supermarkets, grocery stores, bakeries and convenience stores
    • Regional and municipal transit, transit shelters and platforms
    • Churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and all other places of worship, except during a religious rite or ceremony that's incompatible with the face being covered
    • Shopping malls or similar structures which contain multiple places or businesses
    • Lobby areas of commercial buildings
    • Common areas of residential apartment buildings, condominiums, hotels, motels and short-term accommodations, including lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms and other common use facilities
    • Laundromats
    • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas
    • Fitness centres, gyms, and other recreational sport facilities and clubhouses
    • Arcades and other amusement facilities
    • Premises used as an open house, presentation centre, or other facility for real estate purposes
    • Museums, galleries, historic sites and similar attractions
    • Businesses providing personal care services
    • Banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums and other event spaces
    • Municipal buildings
  • Where a face covering is NOT required

    The by-law doesn't apply to:

    • Daycares, schools, post-secondary institutions and other facilities used for educational purposes
    • Hospitals, independent health facilities and offices of regulated health professionals
    • Buildings and services owned and operated by the Province of Ontario or the Federal Government of Canada
    • An indoor area of a building that's accessible only to employees
    • Portions of buildings that are being used for the purpose of providing day camps for children or for the training of amateur or professional athletes
  • How to safely wear a face covering

    To safely wear a face covering:

    • Clean your hands before putting it on and taking it off. Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds.
    • Make sure it fits with no gaps between the face covering and your face. It should cover your mouth and nose from below the eyes to around the chin.
    • Secure it with ties or ear loops so that it's comfortable and doesn't hinder breathing and vision
    • Keep your hands away from your face while wearing a face covering. If you do touch your face, clean your hands immediately.
    • Don't share your mask with others
    • Wear it as long as it's comfortable, and remove it when it becomes soiled, damp, damaged or difficult to breathe through
    • Wash your cloth face covering in the laundry
    • Continue to stay two metres away from others
    • Clean surfaces that a dirty face covering touches

    To remove and care for a face covering:

    • Remove carefully by grasping the straps only and place directly in the laundry
    • If you have to use it again before washing, ensure that the front of the mask folds in on itself to avoid touching the front. Store it in its own bag or container. Discard the bag or clean and disinfect the container after use.
    • Immediately clean your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • Machine wash with hot water and regular detergent

    The Public Health Agency of Canada provides guidance on how to make cloth face coverings. No specific design or material is known to be better than others. Make sure each cloth face covering is made of at least two layers and can be washed multiple times without losing the shape or deteriorating.

    To learn more about face coverings and how to properly wear, fit, remove and clean your non-medical face covering visit:

    Face shields

    Provincial and federal messaging doesn't state for the public to wear a face shield as a substitution for a face covering.

    Face shields are intended to be used by health care workers and are worn in addition to other personal protective equipment. A face covering creates a complete or near-complete barrier on the sides of the wearer's face. A face shield is open on the sides, which allows some small particles and aerosols to enter. Watch a short video on the difference and why face coverings are so important.

    A medical mask is a critical piece of personal protective equipment that must be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders.

  • By-law enforcement

    Residents, businesses and visitors are asked to do their part to protect the health of the community, and comply with all local, Regional and provincial regulations.

    If you have concerns about someone not wearing a mask or face covering, keep in mind that there are a number of exemptions, not everyone can wear a mask and many disabilities are invisible. There's no requirement for people to prove they are exempt.

    Residents and business owners shouldn't engage in confrontations with members of the public who aren't wearing a face covering. Instead, you may politely remind patrons of the provincial and Regional by-law requirements. Residents and business owners should take people at their word, and be kind and respectful.

    Here are some steps you can take to help your customers:

    • Ask if they need help
    • Ask if they're aware of the new mandatory mask by-law and exemptions
    • Offer hand sanitizer
    • Encourage them to practise physical distancing
    • Offer alternative service delivery (if available), such as take-out options and curbside pick-up where physical distancing is a challenge

    Every owner / operator of an enclosed public space must take reasonable steps to comply with the by-law including:

    • Posting visible signage at all entrances
    • Adopting a face covering policy for your business and training staff on the requirements of the policy
    • Providing hand sanitizer with a minimum of 70 per cent alcohol content at public entrances and exits

Frequently asked questions on face coverings

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