News Release
May 20, 2020

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, today Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Mayor John Tory strongly recommended that the public wear a face mask or face covering to protect others when in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Toronto Public Health advises that wearing a face mask or face covering in public can help protect others from your germs. However, public health officials continue to stress that a face mask or face covering has not been proven to protect the person wearing it from COVID-19 and is not a substitute for physical distancing and hand washing.

Wearing a face mask or face covering could help protect others from your germs while indoors, in spaces such as elevators, grocery and retail stores, on public transit, and in a taxi or ride share service where maintaining physical distancing may be a challenge. In outdoor settings where there is plenty of space while walking or running, a face mask or face covering is not recommended. At this time, face masks or non-medical masks are not mandatory in Toronto.

Face masks and face coverings should allow for easy breathing, fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops, maintain shape after washing and drying, include at least two layers of tightly woven cotton or linen and cover the nose and mouth without gaping. Masks should not be shared with others. Cloth masks should be washed after each use in a hot cycle and non-reusable masks should be discarded after use.

Not everyone should wear a mask. This includes children under the age of two, anyone who has a medical condition that makes wearing a mask difficult, or who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

Medical masks, including N-95 masks, should not be worn by the general public so the supply of medical masks is available for use as personal protective equipment for healthcare and frontline workers.

Today, Mayor Tory announced that the City of Toronto will be leading by example on this issue. While the City already provides surgical masks and other pieces of personal protective equipment to employees who require it to do their jobs, we will also be encouraging our employees to wear face coverings when in situations where it is advisable, based on public health advice.

To assist them in doing that, the City is beginning the process to secure over 100,000 reusable cloth masks to provide to our employees.

Employees will be encouraged to use these face coverings in their daily activities including while riding on public transit. Until the ordered masks arrive in four to six weeks, City staff, like other members of the community, will be encouraged to continue to use their own facial coverings when they are in situations where it is not possible to maintain physical distancing.

More information about the use of face coverings or non-medical masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19 is available at


“By covering your face, you are making sure you are doing everything you can to protect your family, your friends, your neighbours, and your fellow residents. You’re helping stop the spread of COVID-19 and making sure our healthcare system stays strong. This is one more way we are working to prepare for a restart and recovery and to help address the fear and anxiety I know many are feeling right now. Having taken that leadership to protect our City of Toronto employees and help them to protect others, I am asking all employers to step forward and similarly advise their employees about the wearing of face coverings and also asking those same employers to supply non-medical masks to
– Mayor John Tory

“COVID-19 is a new virus that was only identified in January, and the reality is that we are still learning about it. Recently, we learned that COVID-19 can spread before someone has symptoms or is even aware that they have the infection. This is why I am updating my message to you today and strongly recommending that residents use face masks and face coverings to protect others against their germs, in settings where physical distancing isn’t possible. This will help to reduce virus spread and protect our community until a vaccine, or treatment is available.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health

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