All About Wearing Masks to Protect Against COVID-19

How to breathe easier while wearing a protective mask

Thunder Bay – COVID-19 Update – Wearing masks has become all too common. Honestly heading into a store, and putting on a mask, I feel like a bad guy in an old west movie. Imagine if you were to put on a mask 14 months ago and walk into a bank? The staff would be immediately hitting the silent alarm and police would be on the way in moments.

Today, with COVID-19 wearing masks, at least for most of us has become common practice.

It is about protecting yourself, your family, and honestly, your community.

In Ontario there are certain situations where people don’t need to wear a mask. There are medical exemptions, and certain places where masks don’t have to be worn.

Surprisingly, that includes individuals in custody. According to the regulations, individuals in custody don’t have to wear a mask. It could be a partial explanation as to how the problem with COVID-19 at jails in the region developed.

Here is an overview on the Mask Regulations in Ontario:

When you don’t have to wear a face covering

There are some situations when you do not need to wear a face covering.

You do not need medical documentation to support any of the exceptions below.


Children do not have to wear a face covering indoors if they are younger than two years old.

Health and accommodations

You do not need to wear a face covering if you:

  • have a medical condition that inhibits your ability to wear a face covering
  • are unable to put on or remove your face covering without help from someone else
  • are receiving accommodations according to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 or the Human Rights Code

Correctional institutions

You do not need to wear a face covering if you are in a:

  • correctional institution
  • custody program for young persons in conflict with the law
  • detention program for young persons in conflict with the law


You do not need to wear a face covering when you are working in an area that allows you to maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from anyone else while you are indoors.

Residences and dwellings

Residents do not need to wear a face covering in:

  • university dorms, retirement homes, long-term care homes or other similar dwellings except when they are in a common area and can’t maintain 2 metres from others
  • residences for people with disabilities (any residences 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)

Performing or rehearsing

You do not need to wear a face covering while you are performing or rehearsing for a:

  • film or television production
  • concert
  • artistic event
  • theatrical performance

Temporarily taking off your face covering

You can take off your face covering temporarily:

  • to receive services that require you to take it off (for example, at the dentist, when receiving some personal care services such as facials, or when you have to verify your identity)
  • to engage in an athletic or fitness activity
  • to eat or drink
  • as necessary for health and safety purposes
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