Face Coverings Commonly Asked Questions

When you go out, the Province of Ontario requires the use of a face covering (non-medical mask, such as a cloth mask) in public indoor spaces and whenever physical distancing is a challenge.

This includes:

  • public spaces (for example, inside stores, event spaces, entertainment facilities and common areas in hotels)
  • workplaces, even those that are not open to the public
  • vehicles that operate as part of a business or organization, including taxis and ride-shares

Learn more about face coverings and how to properly wear, fit, remove and clean your non-medical face mask at the Province of Ontario website.  

Face Coverings General Questions and Answers

Are face coverings effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19?

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings or talks. Droplets can travel up to 2 metres (6 feet) so wearing a face covering that covers your mouth, nose, and chin will help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others or landing on surfaces. Wearing a face covering when in public spaces protects others from your respiratory droplets. This is especially important in situations where physical distancing is difficult or inconsistent such as retail establishments.

It is important to note that face coverings must be used in combination with frequent hand washing, not touching your face and physical distancing in public.

How do I choose a proper face covering?

An effective cloth face covering should:

  • Be at least two layers of tightly woven cotton or linen
  • Cover over nose, mouth and chin, and be easy to breathe through
  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops without gaping or impairing vision
  • Be comfortable to avoid the need for adjustments when wearing
  • Maintain their shape after washing and drying
  • Not contain non-breathable materials such as plastic

For instructions on how to make a face covering using fabric, a t-shirt or a bandana, please review the instructions featured on the Government of Canada website.

What is the proper way to wear and take off a face covering?

To learn more about proper fit, how to use and how to remove or dispose of face coverings, visit the Province of Ontario’s website. 

Who does not need to wear a face covering?

There are some situations when you do not need to wear a face covering, you can learn more at the Province of Ontario’s website.

Does the provincial regulation require business owners to turn away people who are not wearing a face covering?

Business owners/operators must refuse entry to individuals who are not wearing face coverings and do not fit within one of the exemptions in the provincial regulation.

Businesses also have the right to create additional standards over and above the regulation, pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act and their responsibilities under the Occupier’s Liability Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

How is the regulation applied to indoor dining establishments?

The temporary removal of face coverings mandated within public areas is permitted where necessary for the purpose of receiving services, which includes the consumption of food or drink.

However, face coverings are required to enter and leave restaurants as well as in restrooms and general open public areas of restaurant establishments.

Do patrons on a patio need to wear a face covering if they use the inside washroom of an establishment?
Yes, patrons entering indoor hallways and washrooms of a restaurant or bar must put on a face covering. They can take off the face covering when returning to the outdoor patio.
Are people required to wear a face covering while working out in a gym?
The Provincial Regulation states that the temporary removal of a mask while engaged in an athletic or fitness activity is permitted. However, businesses have the right to create additional standards over and above the regulation. 
Are people required to wear a face covering in the lobby of a private residential condo or apartment building?
The Provincial Regulation does not require individuals to wear a face covering to premises that are used as a dwelling except in common areas in where people are unable to maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from other each other. 
Is a worship leader required to wear a face covering in a place of worship during the service? 

No. The worship leader is not required to wear a face covering while leading the service. Areas where the public are not normally invited are exempt. The vestibule, pulpit, stage, etc. where the pastor, imam or rabbi stands or sits would not, normally, qualify as an indoor “public” place.

However, the worship leader would need to wear a face covering if in the public area for congregation or if they are required to come within 2 metres of anyone else. 

Are worshippers required to wear a face covering in a place of worship during a service?
Face coverings must be worn in places of worship at all times except during a religious rite or ceremony incompatible with the wearing of a face covering AND where physical distancing can be maintained. For example, when participating in a sacrament (such as communion) where a worshipper is required eat and/or drink. This is difficult to do with the mouth and nose covered, so there is an exemption for this where physical distancing is also maintained. 
Do members of the choir have to wear a face covering in a place of worship during a service?

While the choir is not normally situated in a place where members of the general public are invited and therefore do meet the requirement to wear a face covering in a “private” area, they are required to physically distance (be 6ft/2m apart from each other) and follow all provincial public health orders currently in place.

Do employees need to wear a face covering in staff-only areas?

Yes. Employees at workplaces, even those that are not open to the public, are required to wear a face covering. However, 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. 

Who is responsible for providing face coverings?

Residents must supply their own face covering. Some business owners/operators will supply masks but they are not required to do so.

As part of the City’s “Neighbours Helping Neighbours” program, the City of Brantford will be providing face coverings to vulnerable populations in the city. Please visit brantford.ca/NeighboursHelpingNeighbours for details.

How will the face covering regulation be enforced?
The regulation will be enforced by the City’s By-law department. We are appealing to residents’ goodwill to take care of each other and willingly cooperate to protect the health and safety of our community.
Is physical distancing (being 6 ft/2 metres apart from others) still necessary if/when wearing a face covering?
Wearing a face covering AND physical distancing is ideal and should be practiced together whenever possible. Wearing a face covering is an important additional measure, especially when physical distancing is not possible. Also continue to practice other health measures such as washing your hands frequently. All measures practiced in combination is the most effective way to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. 
Does an individual have to show proof of exemption from the regulation?

No. Proof is not required to show an individual is exempt from wearing a face covering. The expectation is that individuals who self-identify as exempt should be allowed into an enclosed indoor public place.

The City is aware of fraudulent “Face Covering Exempt Cards” that are being circulated/sold online. There is no such legitimate card as showing proof of exemption is not required.

Is there a reporting process if someone is not wearing a face covering indoors?
It is the responsibility of the owner of the establishment to ensure that the Province's Covid-19 regulations are being followed by patrons. It’s important to keep in mind that the City’s By-law department will not be able to respond to all calls. Residents and business owners/operators can contact the City at 519-759-4150 if non-compliance is significant and ongoing. 
What is the fine for non-compliance?

The set fine for non-compliance is $880.

Repeat offenders can see fines increase individually to $10,000.

Business owners/operators have the responsibility to refuse entry to individuals who are not wearing face coverings and do not fit within one of the exemptions in the provincial regulation.

Businesses also have the right to create additional standards over and above the regulation, pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act and their responsibilities under the Occupier’s Liability Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

Is a face shield an acceptable alternative for a face covering?
Use of a face shield as an alternative face covering is compliant, however, at this time public health officials are recommending cloth coverings as a more effective option to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 virus transmission. 
How long will the regulation be in effect?
The regulation will remain in effect until repealed by the province of Ontario. 


Face Coverings Questions and Answers for Business Owners/Operators

What if someone enters my business without a face covering on?

Business owners/operators should politely remind patrons that face coverings are required under the Province of Ontario regulations.

Businesses also have the right to create additional standards over and above this by-law, pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act and their responsibilities under the Occupier’s Liability Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Who is required to wear a face covering under the provincial face coverings regulation?

Any customer, patron, employee or visitor, who enters an enclosed public place is mandated to wear a face covering.

There are some situations when you do not need to wear a face covering, you can learn more at the Province of Ontario’s website.

Does the regulation require business owners/operators to turn people away who are not wearing a face covering?

Both individuals and business owners/operators have a responsibility to ensure that the individual in an indoor, public place is wearing a face covering. The business owner may refuse entry if the individual is not wearing a face covering and does not fit within one of the exemptions.

If a business owner/operator is regularly permitting entry to persons without face coverings, the business owner could be charged for non compliance with the regulation. 

Businesses also have the right to create additional standards over and above the regulation, pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act and their responsibilities under the Occupier’s Liability Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

What if business owners/operators do not ensure compliance with the regulation?

Both individuals and business owners/operators have a responsibility to ensure that the individual in an indoor, public place is wearing a face covering. The business owner may refuse entry if the individual is not wearing a face covering and does not fit within one of the exemptions in the regulation.

If a business owner/operator is regularly permitting entry to persons without face coverings the business owner could be charged for non compliance with the by-law.

Are business owners/operators required to ask for proof of exemption?

No. The regulation does not require people to provide proof of an exemption.

The City is aware of fraudulent “Face Covering Exempt Cards” that are being circulated/sold online. There is no such legitimate card as showing proof of exemption is not required.

Are employees required to wear a face covering in staff only areas?

Yes. Employees at workplaces, even those that are not open to the public, are required to wear a face covering. However, 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. 

How can establishments notify customers, or visitors about the provincial face coverings regulation?

Business owners/operators are responsible for posting clearly visible signage regarding the regulation at all entrances. Posters can be downloaded and printed from the City’s website as outlined below: