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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health

Masks and Face Coverings

On Friday, Oct. 2, 2020 the Ontario government mandated the use of face coverings in the indoor premises of all businesses/organizations, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services. Please review our Frequently Asked Questions below for more information.

Face Mask Resources

What are the current regulations for masks/face coverings?

For the most up to date regulations for mask/face covering requirements, please visit where you will find information about mask requirements, exemptions, how to ensure your mask fits properly, and how to care for your mask. If you don’t find the answer you are looking for at, check out our additional FAQ below.

What is considered an indoor area of the premises of a business/establishment?

An indoor area of a business or organization refers to all indoor portions of the premises accessible to the members of the public, and those private areas when 2 metre distancing is not possible. Private dwelling spaces that are on the same premises as a business/establishments are exempt from these requirements. For example, in apartment buildings, masks are not required inside personal apartments, but are required in all common areas and areas members of the public can access such as the lobby.

What is considered to be an appropriate face covering?

When you do go out, you must use a face covering (non-medical mask, such as a cloth mask) in public indoor spaces and whenever physical distancing is a challenge.

This includes:

  • public spaces (for example, inside stores, event spaces, entertainment facilities and common areas in hotels)
  • workplaces, even those that are not open to the public
  • vehicles that operate as part of a business or organization, including taxis and rideshares

Face coverings will not stop you from getting COVID-19, but may help protect others.

Non-medical masks or face coverings should:

  • fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
  • maintain their shape after washing and drying
  • be made of at least two layers of tightly woven material (such as cotton or linen)
  • be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping

What happens if I don’t wear a face covering?

Every person responsible for a business/ organization that is open shall ensure that any person in the indoor area of the business/establishment, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business/establishment, wears a face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin during any period when they are in the indoor area.

While individuals who refuse to wear a face covering should indicate why they are exempt from the regulations, they do not need to provide proof of exemption.

Can a business prohibit me from entering if I am not wearing a face covering?

If individuals who are not exempt from current face covering requirements refuse to wear a face covering, the business/establishment can prohibit the individual from entering the establishment in order to protect themselves from enforcement and to protect their staff and patrons.

While businesses/establishments are encouraged to allow access to individuals who are exempt from face covering requirements, they are entitled to refuse access to those who do not wear face coverings so long as they offer alternate methods of service.

Do I need to provide proof of exemption?

While proof of exemption is not required from anyone (including employees) who can not wear a face covering in the indoor premises of a business/establishment, the individual should indicate why they are exempt from face covering requirements.

Do I need to wear a face covering while waiting in line outside of a business/establishment?

Patrons are currently required to wear a mask and physical distance when waiting in line for any food/drink or retail establishment.

How is this being enforced?

The person responsible for the business/establishment is required to ensure that all individuals in the indoor premises of the businesses/establishment are complying with the mandatory face covering regulations.

Public Health Inspectors from HPEPH, as well as municipal bylaw officials, local police officers, and the Ministry of Labour will use a progressive education and enforcement approach to respond to complaints about non-compliance with these requirements.  

How and when should face coverings be used in indoor dining businesses/establishments?

Members of the public are permitted to temporarily remove their face covering where necessary for the purpose of receiving services such as eating or drinking. HPEPH instructs that patrons keep face coverings on until they are seated at a table, and wear face coverings any time they are moving through a shared space (to/from table, restroom, etc.). In green/prevent zones, staff at dining establishments must always wear PPE that protects their mouth, nose, and eyes when coming within 6 feet of patrons who have removed their mask.

Does a performer or public speaker need to wear a face covering?

Public speakers, clergy, auctioneers, performers are permitted to remove their face covering indoors when they need to speak or perform to a group, however they must remain at least 4 metres from the group, and/or separated by an impermeable barrier. In addition, performers or speakers must maintain a distance of 2 metres between themselves and other performers whenever possible.

Who do I call if I want to report an indoor business/establishment that is not requiring customers wear a face covering?

For more information or to report a non-complying establishment, please submit a complaint using our online form.

Can a person be refused entry to a business/establishment for not wearing a face covering?

While individuals who refuse to wear a face covering should indicate why they are exempt from the regulations, they do not need to provide proof of exemption. If individuals who are not exempt from face covering requirements refuse to wear a face covering, the business/establishment can prohibit the individual from entering the establishment in order to protect themselves from enforcement.

What is HPEPH doing to support individuals who are unable to wear a face covering?

HPEPH recognizes that certain individuals may be unable to wear a face covering. While individuals should indicate why they are exempt from these requirements, there is no need for establishments to request proof of exemption from these individuals. HPEPH continues to ask for the cooperation of establishments and community members to carry out these requirements with respect and kindness.

What is the evidence available that supports wearing of face coverings?

Public Health Ontario has compiled a summary of evidence available on masks: COVID-19 – What we know so far about… wearing masks in public.

What advice do you have for workers who experience fogging of eye glasses (or other eye protection) when they wear a mask?

There are some commercial products on the market (e.g., safety glass wipes and anti-fog spray) that claim to reduce fogging of eyewear. Ill-fitting masks may contribute to fogging of eye glasses. Ensure a secure fit over the nose and across the cheeks. Masks with a bendable metal strip inside the mask work best at providing the secure fit. Some people applied medical tape (tape meant to be applied to skin) to secure the mask over the nose. The glasses should rest on top of the mask.

A simple process of cleaning with soap and water that can be applied to the face shield/glasses, and wiping with alcohol may help reduce the film that may occur on the shields from multiple cleaning.

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