How to Protect Yourself and Others

Using multiple layers of prevention provides the best protection, especially if you can't avoid closed spaces, crowded places and close contact. Make informed choices about going out safely during COVID-19.

To keep healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19, follow these steps:

  • Get vaccinated. Learn where you can get vaccinated in Niagara.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or hand sanitize and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay home if you're sick, even if you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or previously tested positive within the last 90 days (and since cleared). Learn what to do if you have symptoms. You should not attend any gatherings or events if you have any symptoms, even if they're mild.
  • Spend time outdoors or in well-ventilated indoor spaces. Ensure your ventilation system is in good working order. If you don't have a ventilation system, open windows to increase fresh air flow. For more information, see ventilation guidance below.
  • Follow local public health advice in public settings, such as wearing a face covering, screening and physical distancing

How to lower your risk and prevent the spread of COVID-19

  • COVID-19 vaccination

    When you get vaccinated, your natural immune response to COVID-19 is triggered. New evidence indicates people get better protection by being fully vaccinated compared to getting infected with COVID-19. If you had COVID-19, you may have some immunity, but we don't know how much or how long it may last.

    The benefits of being fully vaccinated mean that you will:

    • Have strong protection against COVID-19. Most COVID-19 infections are in unvaccinated people. Serious illness, such as needing hospitalization or being on a ventilator, is very rare among fully vaccinated people.
    • Be able to do more things. You can enter settings that need proof of vaccination.
    • Experience less hassles and restrictions. You may qualify for exemptions related to self-isolation, testing or travel.
    • Protect the people around you
    • Help resume normal life in Niagara
  • Physical distancing

    Physical distancing means avoiding close contact with others to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To practise physical distancing, stay two metres apart from people you don't live with. Further than two meters is better especially when:

    • Indoors and unmasked, such as when eating
    • If people in the groups are unvaccinated or if their vaccination status is unknown

    To practise physical distancing:

    • Have virtual gatherings or events. Those who are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease or exposure to COVID-19 should especially consider this.
    • Work from home, where possible
    • Conduct meetings virtually, where possible
    • Follow all current gathering size limits if you do gather in-person. Remember, the fewer people who gather, the lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Outdoor gatherings or events are safer than indoor.

    It's important to remember that knowing someone doesn't reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

  • Face coverings

    Face coverings help slow the spread of COVID-19 and are required:

    • In enclosed public places
    • Where physical distancing is a challenge

    Learn about face coverings.

  • Respiratory etiquette, cleaning and disinfecting

    Practise respiratory etiquette and keep things clean:

    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or into your sleeve. Throw used tissues into a covered, compostable bag lined organics bin or a plastic lined garbage can. Clean your hands after.
    • Avoid sharing personal items, especially those that come into contact with saliva, such as toothbrushes and eating utensils
    • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces once a day using a disinfectant and following manufacturer’s instructions
  • Immunocompromised and high-risk

    Regardless of where you are, you can wear a face covering if you feel it's right for you. This is important if you're immunocompromised or at high-risk of severe disease or exposure to COVID-19.

    The most vulnerable populations at risk for severe outcomes, such as hospitalization, or exposure to COVID-19 are:

    • Adults 60 years old or over
    • People with underlying medical conditions
    • Pregnant individuals
    • Residents and staff of congregate living settings
    • Adults in Indigenous communities
    • Adults in racialized and marginalized communities
    • Health care workers
    • First responders
    • Frontline essential workers who cannot work virtually

    Check your COVID-19 visit risk.

  • Ventilation guidance

    Keeping rooms in the home well ventilated can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Rooms in the home should be well ventilated, such as keeping windows open, if possible, and if weather permits and can be tolerated.

    If you use a forced air system to heat or cool your home:

    • Set the system to "Fan On position" if possible
    • Replace your filter when needed
    • Upgrade to a filter with a higher MERV rating if possible
    • Check your owner's manual for details or consult a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional before making any changes to your system

    Avoid using portable fans, ceiling fans and single unit air conditioners. If you must use them, aim the air stream to avoid blowing directly at or between people in the room. Consider using fans that vent to the outside, such as a box fan in a window, a bathroom exhaust fan and a kitchen exhaust fan. Make sure you open a window when using these fans if possible.

    Try to maintain an optimal humidity level, between 30 and 50 per cent in your home. A humidifier or dehumidifier can help you achieve this.

    For other ventilation options, speak with a HVAC professional or see Health Canada's guidance document 'At home: Using ventilation and filtration to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19'.

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