Wear a face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
This by-law is to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in indoor public spaces as more businesses and services begin to reopen.
Not everyone can wear a mask and many disabilities are invisible. There's no requirement for people 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:
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.
Face coverings are required in:
The by-law doesn't apply to:
To safely wear a face covering:
To remove and care for a face covering:
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:
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.
The primary objective is to educate the public about the importance of wearing face coverings in enclosed public places and gain voluntary compliance.
You may wish to refrain from reporting individual non-compliance issues for now, as we all learn the new rules. Regional or local by-law enforcement or Niagara Regional Police Services may respond to reports of significant or ongoing non-compliance.
Residents, businesses and visitors are all asked to do their part to protect the health of the community, and comply with the by-law.
If you have concerns about someone not wearing a mask or face covering, keep in mind that there are a number of exemptions to the by-law, 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 should not engage in confrontations with members of the public who aren't wearing a face covering. Instead, you may politely remind patrons of the by-law requirement. 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:
Every owner / operator of an enclosed public space must take reasonable steps to comply with the by-law including:
Yes, a big difference. Face coverings are recommended for the general public to wear. Face / mouth shields are not a substitute for wearing a face covering as they don't filter respiratory droplets. Face shields are intended to be used by health care workers and are worn in addition to other personal protective equipment. A face shield is open on the sides which allows particles and aerosols to enter and exit.
Plastic mouth shields are not on the Health Canada medical device licence product list for personal protective equipment. As a non-medical mask it has significant gaps, particularly around the nose and top of the mask. It does not fit closely to the face and provides inadequate protection from particles and aerosols.
Wearing a face / mouth shield alone does not meet the requirements of the Regional by-law. A face shield may be worn in addition to a face covering if so desired.
Watch a short video on the difference between face coverings and face shields and why wearing face coverings is so important.
No. While consuming food or drink, you do not need to wear your face covering. If you are leaving your table for any reason, your face covering should be worn.
The by-law doesn't include common areas of residential buildings or condominiums, as they are not considered public spaces accessible by the general public.
Residential building owners or condominium boards may choose to implement their own policies within their buildings.
Whether or not there is a policy or legal requirement in place, wearing a face covering is recommended by public health officials as an additional measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and all Niagara residents and businesses are asked to do their part to protect the health of the community.
Yes. Wearing a face covering isn't an alternative to physical distancing. Make every effort to keep a two metre distance from others, even when wearing a face covering.
No, you don't need to wear a face covering while participating in a sport or other strenuous physical activity (this includes water-based activities). If you're entering and exiting the fitness facility, in the change room or washroom, your face covering should be worn.
Yes, the definition of face covering section is highlighted in section1(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.
Municipalities have ability to pass their own mask by-law under the Municipal Act, and St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake have already elected to do so. Businesses, residents and visitors to those municipalities should familiarize themselves with the regulations in place for each municipality. An individual can comply with both by-laws. In the event of a conflict, it would usually be resolved in favour of the Regional face covering by-law.
No. Wearing a face covering only applies to enclosed public places.
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.
Don't do the following:
Remember, wearing a non-medical face covering or mask alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must also clean your hands often, practise physical distancing and stay home if you're sick.