Last updated: September 18, 2020 at 6:50 p.m.
Avoid close contact and keep a distance of two metres (six feet) from others. Everyone has a role to play. The actions you take will protect you, loved ones and those most vulnerable in our community.
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed:
The Government of Ontario is allowing social circles of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Learn more about establishing a social circle safely.
Physical distancing means limiting close contact with others. When outside of your home, practise physical distancing by staying two metres (six feet) away from others to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Wearing a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is also a requirement under the mandatory mask or face covering bylaw in Toronto. This bylaw applies to indoor public spaces, such as stores, mall, restaurants, library, galleries, hair salons and places of worship. Be respectful of others who cannot wear a mask. Some conditions make breathing through a mask difficult.
Consider downloading Health Canada’s COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
Get more tips for the safe use of spaces such as parks, recreational facilities, transit and more. You can also download this information as a PDF.
Effective July 7, wearing a mask or face covering is required under the Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw in indoor public spaces. Effective August 5, masks or face coverings are also required in condominium and apartment building common areas.
Wearing non-medical (cloth) masks or face coverings can be an added public health measure for containing the spread of COVID-19 when it is used in combination with frequent handwashing, physical distancing and staying home when sick.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. The infection spreads from close contact with someone with COVID-19 through their respiratory droplets or touching our face with contaminated hands. Respiratory droplets can include coughing, sneezing, talking or even normal breathing. When a person is singing, laughing or talking loudly, the droplets can travel further than two metres/six feet.
People may unknowingly pass the infection to others because they do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or have not yet developed symptoms (pre-symptomatic). The highest risk for infection is with prolonged close contact.
As we are now in Stage 3 of reopening, more people are returning to work, reconnecting, moving around the city and using public transit. This is making physical distancing more challenging, or nearing impossible. The risk of spreading COVID-19 is greater indoors as there is less air flow and ventilation, more crowding, and a greater chance of touching surfaces that have been contaminated by respiratory droplets.
Wearing masks or face coverings indoors helps us keep our respiratory droplets to ourselves to prevent spreading germs to others. There is evidence that cloth masks can reduce the spread of respiratory droplets into the air and landing on surfaces. Jurisdictions that have legislated mandatory masks have seen a decrease in new COVID-19 cases.
The use of masks/face coverings is non-invasive, inexpensive, and can help save lives. Masks may also serve as a visual reminder to everyone that we need to be vigilant and continue to maintain physical distance.
Non-medical masks or face coverings can help keep your respiratory droplets to yourself and protect others when we are unable to maintain physical distancing. The general public should wear non-medical (cloth) masks or face coverings when going to public places, and when entering enclosed public settings. Non-medical masks or face coverings can be made with household items or purchased materials. It is important to use and clean a mask properly (see below). Using a mask incorrectly can accidentally spread infection to the wearer.
Do not use N95 and surgical masks as they are in limited supply, and are urgently needed for healthcare workers. Also be respectful of people who are not wearing a mask. Some health conditions make breathing through a mask difficult.
A good cloth mask or face covering should:
For instructions on making a mask using fabric, a t-shirt or a bandana, visit the Government of Canada website.
A face shield is not an alternative to a mask. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that they “do not recommend use of face shields as a substitute for cloth face coverings. It is not known if face shields protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. The CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings.”
Masks with an exhalation valve are not recommended because they may filter dust particles in the air as the person inhales, but they may not filter virus particles or respiratory droplets. This means droplets from a person can be spread in a room, reducing the benefit of the mask. Respirators with exhaust valves are also not recommended. These are intended to make the respirator more comfortable for the person who is wearing it, but they can also allow respiratory droplets to spread in room.
Clear plastic face masks that extend below the chin and wrap around the sides of the face may be considered when communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, to allow them to lip read. However, clear plastic face masks are not recommended for general use as they do not cover the nose, mouth and chin without gapping and cannot be properly cleaned and disinfected between uses.
There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread by food or food packaging. Wiping down containers or packaging is not necessary. In general, you can lower your risk of infection by following safe food handling practices.
It is important to:
The following recommendations can help you protect yourself, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 when you are shopping. Also, consider downloading the COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
Consensual sex can be a way of dealing with anxiety or fulfilling and expressing our needs for intimacy. A safe and pleasurable sex life is an important part of mental health and wellbeing. But is it safe to have sex during COVID-19?
Safer sexual practices may prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but it will not prevent infection from COVID-19. COVID-19 spreads through direct contact with respiratory droplets (spit) of someone who is infected with the virus when they cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can spread up to two metres or six feet. The virus has also been found in semen (cum) and feces (poop). It is not yet known if the virus can be found in blood or vaginal fluids. It may also be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
Learn more about safer sex during COVID-19.
You can safely perform CPR during COVID-19 and reduce the spread of the virus by following these hands-only CPR guidelines, which were developed by Toronto Paramedic Services.
On December 31, 2019, Chinese health authorities identified a new (or novel) coronavirus (referred to as COVID-19) through a series of reported cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China.
Coronaviruses are a large family of common viruses which are typically associated with mild illness, similar to the common cold and spread easily between people. There are however, strains of coronaviruses which have caused more severe illness, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). These tend to have more difficulty spreading from person to person.
COVID-19 is most commonly spread from an infected person through:
While COVID-19 can spread from aerosols generated during medical procedures and certain dental procedures, airborne transmission is not a common way the virus is spread. COVID-19 is not known to be spread through airborne transmission in community settings, ventilation systems or through water.
Learn how emergency orders, directives and bylaws impact you, including the Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health’s directives for residents of Toronto issued on April 1.