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Provincial Mask Orders

In Ontario, it is mandatory to wear a face mask (e.g., a non-medical mask) which covers the mouth, nose, and chin in public indoor spaces and whenever physical distancing is a challenge. This includes:

  • Indoor areas of a business or organization
  • Workplaces, even those that are not open to the public (see Using Masks in the Workplace)
  • A vehicle that is operating as part of a business or organization (including private and public transit vehicles)
  • Common areas of dwellings where people are unable to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from others

A face shield is not a substitute for a mask, and must be used in combination with a mask when maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres or more is not practical.


The use of masks or face coverings are mandatory, unless the person in the indoor area:

  • is a child younger than two years of age;
  • is attending a school or private school within the meaning of the Education Act that is operated in accordance with a return to school direction issued by the Ministry of Education and approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
  • is attending a child care program at a place that is in compliance with the child care re-opening guidance issued by the Ministry of Education;
  • is receiving residential services and supports in a residence listed in the definition of “residential services and supports” in subsection 4 (2) of the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008;
  • is in a correctional institution or in a custody and detention program for young persons in conflict with the law;
  • is performing or rehearsing in a film or television production or in a concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance;
  • has a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering;
  • is unable to put on or remove their mask or face covering without the assistance of another person;
  • needs to temporarily remove their mask or face covering while in the indoor area,
    • to receive services that require the removal of their mask or face covering,
    • to engage in an athletic or fitness activity,
    • to consume food or drink, or
    • as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety;
  • is being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005;
  • is being reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Human Rights Code; or
  • performs work for the business or organization, is in an area that is not accessible to members of the public and is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person while in the indoor area.

See the full Provincial legislation.

Eye Protection

The purpose of using eyewear is to protect the eyes from splashes, sprays, and respiratory droplets. Wearing prescription eyeglasses alone is not an acceptable form of eye protection. Some examples acceptable eye protection include:

  • Goggles provide the most reliable eye protection from splashes, sprays, and respiratory droplets with a snug fit around the eyes.
  • Face shields are a type of personal protective equipment that have a transparent window or visor supported in front of the face, which provides a barrier of protection to the facial area and related mucus membranes (i.e., eyes, nose, and lips).
  • Safety glasses may also be used; however, they do not provide the same level of protection from splashes, sprays, and respiratory droplets as goggles or face shields.

The Medical Officer of Health’s Workplace Letter of Instruction provides additional measures that employers can implement to keep employees and customers safe, such as:

  • Providing workers with appropriate personal protective equipment if the work environment cannot be altered to allow the required 2 metres (6 feet) of physical distancing at all times;
  • In the circumstance that employees are within a 2 metres (6 feet) distance of each other or a customer that isn’t masked (e.g., a server in a restaurant tending to those eating without masks), a face shield or eye protection is also required.

Protective eyewear is not a form of respiratory protection and should always be worn along with a face covering or mask. For more information, see the FAQs and Fact Sheet on protective eyewear.

To report violations of the Provincial mask order:

Commercial businesses & Workplaces:

Contact the WECHU at
519-258-2146 x 4510
or email

Public transit:

City of Windsor
Call 311 or email

Town of Amherstburg
Call 519-736-0012, ext. 2219, or TTY: 519-736-9860, or email

Municipality of Leamington
Call 519-326-5761 or visit 

Why Masks Are Important

Strong Evidence* for Prevention of COVID-19

The widespread use of face coverings by all persons decreases spread of respiratory droplets, and expert opinion supports the widespread use of face coverings to decrease transmission of COVID-19. In a large-scale review analyzing the trends of the spread of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, as well as Italy, and New York City, researchers found that the use of mandated face coverings was the key factor in reducing the number of infections in these major centres.

According to the researchers of the above pandemic trends, wearing face coverings in public is the most effective means to prevent transmission between humans, as physical distancing alone may not be sufficient in preventing the spread. Based on what is being seen across the world, the combination of mask wearing, physical distancing, isolation of positive cases, and contact tracing, offers the best chance at stopping the COVID-19 pandemic (Zhang, Li, Zhang, Wang, & Mario, 2020).

Stopping Virus Transmission at the Source

COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person predominantly through respiratory droplets that are released from the nose and mouth, through contact with contaminated surfaces, and through poor hand hygiene. It may be transmitted from persons who have minimal or no signs or symptoms of illness.

Wearing of masks may help protect you from inhaling contaminated particles in the air through your nose and mouth (Konda et al., 2020), but, more importantly, masks keep contaminated particles in the mask (given off when individuals talk, sneeze, or cough) so they are not available to spread in the air to others, or to fall on a surface and be picked up by touch (MacIntyre & Chughtai, 2020).

*Evidence and Studies on Face Coverings

Alberta Health Services COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Group. Rapid Response Report: What is the effectiveness of wearing medical masks, including home-made masks, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community? Updated 2020 June. 

Arp NL, Nguyen TH, Graham Linck EJ et al. Use of face coverings in public during the COVID-19 pandemic: an observational study. Preprint. medRxiv. Posted 2020 Jun 12.   

Aydin O, Emon B, Saif MTA. Performance of fabrics for home-made masks against spread of respiratory infection through droplets: a quantitative mechanistic study. Preprint. medRxiv. Posted 2020 April 24.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Considerations for wearing cloth face coverings. 2020 July 16. 

Chan JF, Yuan S, Zhang AJ et al. Surgical mask partition reduces the risk of non-contact transmission in a golden syrian hamster model for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Clin Infect Dis. 2020 May 30.

Cheng VC, Wong SC, Chuang VW et al. The role of community-wide wearing of face mask for control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic due to SARS-CoV-2. J Infect. 2020;81(1):107-114.

Chu DK, Akl EA, Duda S et al. Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2020 395 (10242) :1973-1987.

Davies A, Thompson KA, Giri K, Kafatos G, Walker J, Bennett A. Testing the efficacy of homemade masks: would they protect in an influenza pandemic? Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2013;7(4):413-8. 

Eikenberry SE, Mancuso M, Iboi E et al. To mask or not to mask: Modeling the potential for face mask use by the general public to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic. Infect Dis Model; 5: 293-308.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Using face masks in the community. Stockholm: ECDC; 2020.

Furukawa NW, Brooks, JT, Sobel J. Evidence supporting transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 while presymptomatic or asymptomatic. EID Journal. 2020; 26(7).

Gandhi M, Havlir D. The Time for universal masking of the public for Coronavirus Disease 2019 is now. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2020;7(4). 

Hong LX, Lin A, He ZB et al. Mask wearing in pre-symptomatic patients prevents SARS-CoV-2 transmission: An epidemiological analysis. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2020;36:101803.   

Kai D, Goldstein G, Morgunov A et al. Universal masking is urgent in the COVID-19 pandemic: SEIR and agent based models, empirical validation, policy recommendations. Preprint. arXiv. Posted 2020 April 22.

Kenyon C. Widespread use of face masks in public may slow the spread of SARS CoV-2: an ecological study. Preprint. medRxiv. Posted 2020 April 6.

Konda, A., Prakash, A., Moss, G., Schmoldt, M., Grant, G., and Guha, S. (2020). Aerosol Filtration Efficiency of Common Fabrics Used in Respiratory Cloth Masks. American Chemical Society Nano, 14(5), 6339–6347. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.0c03252

Leffler CT, Ing E, Lykins JD, McKeown CA, Grzybowski A. Country-wide coronavirus mortality and use of masks by the public. Submitted for publication 2020 April 22.

Liang M, Gao L, Cheng C, et al. Efficacy of face mask in preventing respiratory virus transmission: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2020 May 28.

Lyu W, Wehby GL. Community use of face masks and COVID-19: evidence from a natural experiment of State mandates in the US. Health Affairs. 2020 June 16.

Ma QX, Shan H, Zhang HL, Li GM, Yang RM, Chen JM. Potential utilities of mask-wearing and instant hand hygiene for fighting SARS-CoV-2. J Med Virol. 2020 March.

MacIntyre CR, Chughtai AA. A rapid systematic review of the efficacy of face masks and respirators against coronaviruses and other respiratory transmissible viruses for the community, healthcare workers and sick patients. Int J Nurs Stud.2020; 108(103629).

Marchiori, M. COVID-19 and the social distancing paradox: dangers and solutions. Preprint. arXiv. Posted 2020 May 26.

Mitze, T., Kosfeld, R., Rode, J., Walde, K. Face masks considerably reduce COVID-19 cases in Germany: A synthetic control method approach. Bonn, Germany. IZA Institute of Labor Economics. 2020 June. 

Public Health Ontario. COVID-19 – what we know so far about…wearing masks in public. 2020 June 17.

Rodriguez-Palacios A, Cominelli  F, Basson AR,  Pizarro TT, Ilic S.  Textile masks and surface covers-a spray simulation method and a “Universal Droplet Reduction Model” against respiratory pandemics Front Med (Lausanne). 2020 May 27;7:260.  

Střížová Z, Bartůňková J, Smrž D. Can wearing face masks in public affect transmission route and viral load in COVID-19? Cent Eur J Public Health. 2020;28(2):161-162. 

Tao Z, Dong J and Culleton R. The use of facemasks may not lead to an increase in hand-face contact. Transbound Emerg Dis. 2020 Jun 28. doi: 10.1111/tbed.13698.  

Wang J, Pan L, Tang S et al. Mask use during COVID-19: A risk adjusted strategy. Environ Pollut. 2020 Jun 25;266:115099.   

Worby CJ, Chang HH. Face mask use in the general population and optimal resource allocation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Preprint. medRxiv. Posted 2020 Apr 7.

Zhang, R., Li, Y. Zhang, A., Wang, Y., Mario, M. (2020). Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(26): 14857-14863. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2009637117

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Last modified: 
Friday, July 2, 2021 - 1:25pm