Wearing Masks in the Community and Workplaces
Wearing a mask in the community is a measure to protect you and those around you, even if you don’t have symptoms.
As of June 3, 2022, masks are still recommended but not longer required in public transit.
Masks are no longer required in early learning and child care centers, and for students and staff in K-12 when they are on buses and when not seated in class. It is important that students and staff, who are most comfortable to continue wearing a mask, be supported in their decisions.
People in Prince Edward Island are no longer required to wear masks in indoor public places or in workplaces where distancing cannot be maintained. Masks are still recommended in indoor public places.
Masks are still required in certain high-risk settings, including hospitals, long-term care, and community care homes.
General COVID-19 public health guidance for individuals, businesses and organizations where requirements are no longer in place can be found here.
Frequently Asked Questions
As of June 3, where do masks need to be worn?
Masks are still required in certain high risk settings:
- long-term care,
- community care.
Why is it mandatory to wear a mask in certain high risk settings in PEI?
Masks are effective in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 particularly when combined with other important health measures, such as vaccination and staying home when not feeling well. Mask requirements continue to be evaluated.
Who is exempt from wearing a mask?
Some people are unable to wear masks for various reasons. In some cases, these reasons may not be visible to others and people are not expected to produce proof of exemption. We should always treat each other with kindness, respect and understanding.
Exemptions for individuals include but not limited to, the following:
- Children under the age of 2
- Children between the ages of 2 and 5 who cannot be persuaded to wear a mask
- Anyone who cannot remove a mask without assistance
- People with a valid medical reason (most people with underlying medical conditions can wear a mask safely)
Exemptions for activities include but not limited to, the following:
- During some treatments, services or physical activity
- When actively eating or drinking while and seated (masks are not permitted to be removed while circulating)
- Performers, as outlined in the questions and answers below
Masks should be worn as much as possible to reduce risk to yourself and others.
It is especially important that people unable to wear a mask practice physical distancing, wash or sanitize hands frequently and get tested if unwell. It is also recommended that - when entering crowded settings - people unable to wear a mask, consider their own risk of more severe disease or outcomes and that of others, as well as their vaccination status, and whether the vaccine status of others is known.
In places where masks are still required, are masks still required if physical distancing can be maintained or barriers are present?
Yes, masks are still required in those situations, even when physical distancing can be maintained or barriers such as plexiglass are present. Masks are an important added layer of protection which supplement other public health measures but do not replace them.
In places where masks are still required, is it necessary to wear a mask while performing, including singing or playing wind instruments?
Performers are not required to wear masks while performing activities requiring vocalization, such as talking or singing.
Masks are not required to be worn by individuals playing wind or brass instruments while performing or rehearsing, however masks must be worn at all other times.
How is the mask policy enforced?
We are taking a cooperative approach to enforcement, relying on Islanders to make good decisions to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Wear a mask to protect our Island community.
What is the role of businesses and operators in helping to enforce people wear a mask?
The operator of a business or space where masking is required should ensure that every person who is not wearing a mask while on the premises is provided with a single verbal reminder to do so as soon as possible upon entry. Businesses are discouraged from refusing entry to people who say they are exempt from wearing a mask, and should not ask for proof of exemption
Some people cannot wear masks for medical reasons and sometimes the reasons are not visible. Islanders, including business owners and staff, are encouraged to be kind and show compassion and understanding. The primary objective is to educate, inform and gain voluntary compliance. We would not advise businesses to risk the safety of their staff to enforce the rule.
These masking rules set a minimum standard for businesses in PEI but some may choose to follow stricter rules.
Are masks required or recommended outdoors?
- Masks are recommended outdoors, regardless of vaccination status, in outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained with individuals outside of one’s household/close circle of contacts
- Those who serve the public outdoors (e.g., restaurant servers) should wear a mask
What type of mask to choose?
Different types of masks are available for public use. Non-medical masks, medical masks and respirators can all be used in the community. The effectiveness of non-medical masks depends on material, construction, fit and proper use. A mask is most effective when it is worn properly. Keep your nose and mouth covered while wearing a mask to prevent exposing yourself and others to potentially infectious respiratory particles.
Non-medical masks can be homemade or commercial. Non-medical face masks should:
- Be made of at least 2 layers of breathable tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen) and; an effective middle filter layer. - such as non-woven polypropylene fabric*
- Include a filter in your non-medical mask by:
- Adding a filter fabric as a middle layer
- Inserting a disposable filter into a pocket on the inside of the mask
- Filters can be purchased or you can prepare your own using a piece of filter fabric
Fit is important for all mask types:
- Be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaping and not allow air to escape from the edges.
- Masks with a flexible nose piece may provide a better fit over the nose.
- Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops, adjustable ear loops improve fit.
- Allow for easy breathing
- Be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment
- Be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
- Maintain its shape after washing and drying
In general, while non-medical masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, medical masks and respirators provide better protection. No matter which type of mask you choose, proper fit is a key factor in its effectiveness.
Ways to improve fit include:
- Adjusting ties or ear loops
- Adjusting the flexible nose piece
- Tying knots in the ear loops and tucking the sides of the masks so that it lies flat
- Using a mask fitter or brace
- A mask fitter or brace is a device made of flexible material worn over a mask to help provide a snug fit (may be made of plastic or silicone).
- Layering a well-fitting non-medical cloth mask over the top of disposable mask to improve the fit.
- Keeping facial hair and beards shaved short, if possible, so the mask can fit more closely to your face.
Proper use and care
To make mask use as effective as possible, it’s essential to make sure you’re using, storing and cleaning them properly.
A mask is most effective when it is worn properly. Keep your nose and mouth covered while wearing a mask to prevent exposing yourself and others to potentially infectious respiratory particles.
Wash your hand or use alcohol based hand sanitizer when you:
- Adjust your mask
- Put your mask on
- Take your mask off
It is important to keep your mask clean when not in use.
Do not hang the mask from your ears or place it under your chin.
Properly clean and disinfect any items that improve mask fit such as braces and mask fitters.
Discard disposable masks and filters properly in a garbage container or recycle if appropriate.
Change your mask as soon as possible if it gets dirty, damp or damaged. Place dirty reusable non-medical masks is a secure, waterproof bag or container until you can wash them in the laundry.
Medical masks and respirators
Medical masks and respirators are typically single use and disposable, but may be reused until visibly dirty, damp or damaged.
*Guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends 3-layer masks. At this time, Islanders should continue to use their 2-layer masks. As we replace our masks, we should purchase 3-layer masks that includes a middle filter layer.
Non-medical masks should not:
- Be placed on children under the age of 2 years
- Be placed on anyone unable to remove them without assistance or anyone who has trouble breathing
- Be made exclusively of materials that easily fall apart, such as tissues
- Have exhalation valves
- Be secured with tape or other inappropriate materials
- Be shared with others
- Be allowed to hang from your ears
- Be placed under your chin
- Impair vision or interfere with tasks
Can I wear a face shield, spit guard, or another mask alternative?
No. Alternatives—including face shields, spit guards, gaiters, scarves—are not as effective at preventing the transmission of viruses as non-medical masks. Face shields and spit guards do not effectively contain the spray of respiratory droplets. Neck gaiters and scarves aren't well secured to the head or ears, and are difficult to remove without contaminating yourself.
In some instances, face shields can be worn in addition to non-medical masks, as an added layer of protection. Service providers that require their client’s face to be uncovered (eg. facials, dental procedures) should consider eye protection, such as a face shield, in addition to a mask.
Should I wear a mask with an exhalation valve?
No. Do not use masks or respirators with exhalation valves. These masks do not protect others from COVID-19 or limit the spread of the virus. This is because they allow infectious respiratory droplets to spread outside the mask.
Face shields, spit guards, gaiters and scarves are not substitutes for non-medical masks.
How do I put on a mask?
- Ensure the face covering is clean and dry, and free of tears or holes.
- Whenever possible, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with a 60-80% alcohol base.
- Ensure your hair is away from your face.
- Place the face covering over your nose and mouth and secure to your head or ears with its ties or elastics. Adjust, if needed, to ensure nose and mouth are fully covered. The mask should fit snugly to the cheeks and there should not be any gaps.
- Repeat step 2.
While wearing a mask, it is important to avoid touching your face. If you do touch your mask or face, you should immediately wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. You can also use hand sanitizer with a 60-80% alcohol base.
Masks and face coverings are only effective if worn properly. Uncovering your nose or mouth while wearing one:
- Eliminates any protection it may offer
- Allows you to breathe in and exhale potentially infectious respiratory droplets
How do I remove a mask?
- Whenever possible, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer with a 60-80% alcohol base.
- Remove the face covering by un-tying it or removing the loops from your ears. Avoid touching the front of the mask when removing it. It can be placed in a plastic bag temporarily if possible (make sure you close or zip seal the bag while storing it).
- If you plan to reuse the mask, wash it before wearing it again. It can be washed with hot, soapy water, or it can be washed with your other laundry.
- After removing the face covering, repeat Step 1.
You should try to reduce the number of times you take your mask off and put it back on. If entering and exiting multiple indoor spaces where masks are required, consider leaving your mask on for the duration of your outing.
It is important to keep your mask clean when not in use, or when eating or drinking. Store it in a clean paper or cloth bag until you put it on again. Soiled masks should be placed in a secure, waterproof bag or container until they can be washed in the laundry.