Guidance for mask use in health care facilities during COVID- 19 pandemic
An updated policy for mask use in health care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic was issued on August 31. Health authorities, facility operators, staff and health care providers are asked to implement the recommendations in the guidance immediately.
What key changes came with the mask policy?
Health care workers (clinical and non-clinical staff):
- Regardless of immunization status, all persons working in long-term care, acute care hospitals, stand-alone extended care hospitals designated under the Hospital Act, seniors' assisted living settings and provincial mental health facilities must wear a medical mask at all times, including in common areas and break rooms unless eating and/or drinking.
- Visitors, regardless of immunization status, must wear a medical mask according to the overview of visitors in long-term care and seniors' assisted living.
What health care settings are affected by this policy?
- Long-term care
- Acute care hospitals
- Stand-alone extended care hospitals designated under the Hospital Act
- Seniors' assisted living settings
- Provincial mental health facilities
Where else should medical masks be worn?
The pre-existing medical mask orders still stay in place for all the health care facilities and settings where health care is provided.
Who else should wear masks?
- All visitors must wear a medical mask when entering and moving around any health care facility, including clinical and non-clinical areas.
- All persons accompanying a patient in admitting/waiting areas, including emergency departments, must wear a medical mask.
Patients: acute care
- All patients must wear a medical mask when entering and moving around a health care facility, including patient transport, except when requested to remove their mask by a health care professional.
- Admitted patients must wear a medical mask when they leave their room.
- Admitted patients will generally not be required to wear a medical mask in their rooms, with exceptions based on a health care professional's point of care risk assessment.
Who is exempt from the mask policy?
- People under 12 years old
- People unable to wear a mask because of a health condition or physical or mental impairment.
- People unable to put on or remove a mask without help from another person.
- To accommodate site-specific circumstances (e.g., staff/visitor/patient masking may not be required when eating/drinking at retail food establishments or cafeterias).