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Face Covering By-law

Face Coverings

Public Health strongly recommends residents continue to wear a mask

How to wear a face covering

The requirements of the provincial order prevail over Niagara Region's Face Covering By-law (By-law 2020-46) as amended. Niagara's by-law will expire when the province lifts its order requiring face coverings.

Who still needs to wear a mask

Mask wearing is still mandated by the province in certain settings until June 11, 2022

Find out where individuals are still required to wear a mask.

Refer to Class Order pursuant to Section 22 for more information.

Situations where individuals must wear a mask

The following individuals must continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings:

  • Individuals required to follow Ministry of Health guidance related to COVID-19 infection or exposure. Use the self-isolation guidance to find out if masking applies to you.
  • Individuals required to follow federal travel requirements after returning from international travel. Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 who are exempt from quarantine must wear a mask when in public spaces, including schools and child care, for 14 days after returning to Canada.

Businesses and organizations that may require you to wear a mask

Most Provincial masking mandates have ended in businesses and organizations. However, it's important to note that they can choose to continue masking policies as part of their ongoing operations. You will need to follow their masking policy.

Individuals strongly encouraged to still wear a mask

Niagara Region Public Health encourages you to continue to wear masks and to support organizations who wish to continue with masking policies to protect customers and employees. Health Canada recommends it’s even more important for you to wear a mask if you're at higher risk of exposure or severe outcomes.

Individuals in school / child care settings

If a staff member, child or visitor received their COVID-19 vaccine in the last 48 hours and are experiencing mild fatigue / tiredness, muscle aches and / or joint pain that only began after vaccination, they should wear a properly fitted mask for the entire time at school / child care while they're experiencing these symptoms.

Exemptions

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

Frequently asked questions on face coverings

  • How do I 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 advice on COVID-19 mask use in community settings.

  • Can I wear a face shield or a plastic mouth shield instead of a face covering (non-medical mask)?

    Wearing a face / mouth shield alone doesn't meet the requirements of the face covering by-law. Watch this video on the difference between face coverings and face shield, and why face coverings are so important.

    Face / mouth shields don't filter respiratory droplets. They don't fit closely to the face which allows particles and aerosols to enter and exit. In some settings, workers are required to wear a face shield in addition to a face covering.

  • Does our by-law specify covering nose, mouth and chin?

    Yes, the definition of face covering section is highlighted in section 1(9) of the Regional by-law. For the purposes of this by-law, a face covering shall mean a mask or other face covering, including a bandana or scarf constructed of cloth, linen or other similar fabric that fits securely to the head and is large enough to completely and comfortably cover the mouth, nose and chin without gaping.

    Face shields or plastic mouth shields are not a substitute for masks / face coverings as they don't filter respiratory droplets.

  • How can I properly handle my face covering between uses?

    Proper handling of a face covering is important to protect you from this virus.

    If the face covering is doing its job, it will block the virus from infecting you, or others, so it may have the virus on it after use.

    • Fold the outside of the face covering in on itself, so only the inside of the face covering is facing outwards
    • Store it in its own bag or container before placing it into your pocket, purse or vehicle. Discard the bag or clean and disinfect the container after use.

    Don't do the following:

    • Reuse face coverings that are moist, dirty or damaged
    • Wear a loose face covering
    • Touch your face covering while wearing it
    • Remove the face covering to talk to someone
    • Hang your face covering from your chin, neck or ears
    • Hang your face covering from the rearview mirror of your vehicle
    • Share your face covering
    • Leave your used face covering within the reach of others

    Remember, wearing a non-medical face covering or mask alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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