Understanding Canada’s Face Mask Recommendations

Posted by Joanne Pearce on

Since May 20, 2020, Canadians have been advised to wear face coverings when in the community. Today’s blog post explores current guidelines and the science of face masks.

NOTE: In accordance to Public Health Agency of Canada and World Health Organization’s guidelines, if COVID-19 is spreading in your community please stay safe by taking simple precautions: physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Make sure to check local public health authorities’ advice and keep up-to-date on our current situation!

For almost a year now, Canadians have had to face the serious threat of COVID-19. It’s normal to see new updates come out each week as the situation continues to evolve.  Our blog post today dives into making sense of what the latest guidelines are, the science behind face masks and what makes Covergalls’ masks so great!

What are the latest guidelines on wearing face masks in Canada?

Canadians are now recommended to choose three-layer masks, including a middle filter layer, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This new recommendation was announced earlier this month on November 3rd by chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam. 

“The science of masks has really accelerated during this particular pandemic. So we're just learning again as we go," said Dr. Tam. 

Previous to this update, the Public Health Authority of Canada (PHAC) advised Canadians to use a non-medical mask or face covering with two layers. The updated guidelines now call for three layers, where two of them should be made of tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton or linen, and the third, middle layer should be a filter-type fabric, such as non-woven polypropylene fabric. 

The COVID-19 particle is only around 0.1 micron in size, but it attaches to something larger such as the droplets produced by breathing, talking and coughing. Tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton or linen, have been found to perform best when filtering these potentially harmful particles. 

An investigation run by researchers from the University of British Columbia found double-knit cotton to be the most effective of the common fabrics for particle filtration. CBC’s Marketplace also recently tested over 20 different masks to see which materials offered the best protection and also found tightly-woven material, such as cotton, effective.

What is the difference between a three-layer mask and a two-layer mask?

The main difference between the two-layer mask that PHAC recommended before, and the newly recommended three-layer mask, is a filter layer. Filters add an extra layer of protection against COVID-19 by trapping the small infectious particles. 

Research shows that by wearing non-medical masks Canadians can offer “source control,” meaning the wearers offer protection of others in close proximity by reducing transmission of the virus. Mandatory mask policies have been associated with a reduction in case loads

The main message from the PHAC is that by wearing masks, especially three layered masks, Canadians can easily add an extra level of protection against COVID-19.

Dr. Tam says the PHAC is now recommending Canadians to choose a three-layer non-medical mask with a filter, instead of a two-layer one, in order to better prevent the spread of COVID-19 as winter approaches. 

Covergalls employees wearing masks and holding stop sign in support of safe social distancing

As of November 12, 10,158,802 Canadians have been tested for COVID-19 and infected numbers continue to rise across the country. On Friday November 13th Ontario placed more regions in the red zone as 1,396 new COVID-19 cases were reported, while latest modelling shows COVID-19 cases in B.C. are doubling every 13 days

These numbers act to underline how important it is to follow provincial public health guidelines. But don’t take this new guideline, or increase in numbers, to suggest giving up on your old mask.

"This is an additional recommendation, just to add another layer of protection," said Tam at the November 3rd press conference.

A two-layer mask still provides you protection. The Toronto Public Health (TPH) continues to recommend the use of masks with at least two layers to cover respiratory droplets and to reduce the spread of germs into the air and on surfaces.

Dr. Tam also stressed during her announcement that what we need is Canadians to follow multiple guidelines together - social distancing, washing hands, and staying away from large gatherings - alongside wearing a mask. All these steps will act to reduce our risk of spreading COVID-19. 

Covergalls model wearing blue mask

Where to get a mask? Covergalls has you covered. 

Covergalls has been working with our Toronto-based manufacturer since 2017. This past spring we began producing face masks that Canadians can wear that are comfortable, stylish, sustainable and meet safety standards.

The partnership developed out of our desire to help provide safe and effective protective gear in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The mask was created with the want to support employment of local seamstresses while giving back to vulnerable members in our community,” said Covergalls’ founder Alicia Woods when asked about the new product. 

Our washable and reusable face masks are made with poly cotton and a knit bamboo rayon cotton liner (liner color may vary). The fabric allows it to be breathable and soft on the face. 

Covergalls model wearing plaid face mask

We have also worked with partners to create and design initiatives that feed back into helping the community.

In mid June we released our #CanadaStrong masks. Five dollars from the sale of every one of our red “Canada Strong” masks, which retails for $15, will be donated back to long-term care facilities for the purchase of medical-grade PPE. To date we have donated over $5000 to long term care homes, allowing them to purchase the required PPE for their residents and staff.

The mask was also a natural shift and add on to our existing product line as our focus has always been on safety, properly protecting people in workwear and making people feel included,” says Woods. 

You have your mask. Now, make sure you are using and storing it right!

When you are wearing your mask make sure that you cover your nose, mouth and chin and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask. Avoid touching your mask while you are wearing it to prevent contamination. 

When removing it, handle only the ear loops or ties, fold outside corners together, and store it in a clean paper or cloth bag until you put it on again.

Soiled reusable masks should be placed in a secure, waterproof bag or container until they can be washed in the laundry. Covergalls masks should be washed using warm water and soap and hung up to dry.

To check our our designs and purchase, visit https://covergalls.com/collections/masks