Masks & PPE

Note: information on this page is subject to change and is current only as of this date: June 15, 2021

In accordance with the EPA mask mandate order, and the Workplace and Post-Secondary Institution Safety order, it is a legal requirement to wear a mask in inside common areas, customer service areas, and classrooms as specified below:

  • Everyone must wear a mask at all times in inside common areas including elevators, lobbies, hallways, stairwells, bathrooms, break rooms, kitchens and fitness facilities. Common areas do not include indoor areas in which employees work (e.g. office areas and meeting rooms). 
  • Employees must wear a mask at all times when providing services to a client in a personal service establishment, serving a customer in premises in which the Food and Liquor Serving Premises order applies, or serving customers in a retail business. 
  • Students must wear a mask at all times in a classroom, including when seated in a designated seat or workstation. Classrooms include all in-person learning facilities (e.g. classrooms and lecture halls, teaching/computing labs, art studios, music or theatre facilities), study spaces, and research labs and facilities. Faculty and staff must wear a mask when entering/exiting a classroom, and whenever it is specified according to their existing in-person (f2f) or research safe work plan (SWP).

Mask exemptions

Masks are exempt in common areas and classroom environments, if: 

  • People are unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person
  • People with psychological, behavioural or health conditions or with physical, cognitive or mental impairments who are unable to wear a mask
  • The mask is removed temporarily for the purpose of identifying the person wearing it;
  • The mask is removed temporarily to communicate with a disability or diverse ability, where visual cues, facial expressions or lip reading or lip movements are important;
  • People are consuming food or beverage in an area designated for that purpose, in which case they must be seated and must maintain a distance of two metres from others in the area;
  • People are carrying out personal hygiene;
  • An employee is on their own in a workplace vehicle;
  • A student is on their own in a post-secondary vehicle; 
  • An employee is working on their own in a workplace;
  • A student is playing a musical instrument in the course of the student’s educational program and is unable to play the instrument while wearing a mask;
  • There is a physical barrier between the employee or student and others which blocks the transmission of droplets.
  • Children are under the age of 12

For those who are not able to wear a mask, please be especially careful to maintain a safe distance.  

Even when wearing a mask, please continue to observe physical distancing as much as possible, as a mask is not a substitute for physical distancing.

Note that a face shield is not a substitute for a mask as it has an opening below the mouth.

It is important to understand how to use a non-medical mask, and their limitations as a protective measure (see resources below). 

Where can I get a non-medical mask or gloves?

If you require a non-medical mask or gloves please check with your supervisor first.  These supplies may also be available in Science Stores for research areas, or at the Bookstore for non-research areas. 

Medical masks & PPE

Medical masks, including surgical or procedure masks, are specifically designed for health care environments and are considered PPE.  These masks, along with N95 respirators, should only be used as part of PPE that would otherwise be required in health care or specialized laboratory protocols. 

These masks and respirators should not be used for general protection against COVID-19 in the workplace, as they are prioritized for health care workers and in very limited supply.


Medical experts say that it’s not necessary for you to wear gloves to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.  Other measures, such as physical distancing and good hygiene practices, are more effective in preventing the risk of transmission.

Units or supervisors may choose to incorporate the use of gloves in their safe work plan, in combination with other control measures.  Gloves may be considered as an additional protective measure in circumstances where employees are touching items in common areas, particularly materials with which other workers have or will come into contact.

If gloves are incorporated in the safe work plan, supervisors must ensure that employees are using them in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and good hygiene practices. This includes:

  • Choosing the proper gloves for the chemicals or other materials you are handling.
  • Proper donning and doffing gloves to minimize contamination. If you are wearing a mask, put your gloves on last, and take them off first when you are finished. Wash your hands before and after wearing gloves.
  • Changing gloves after there is a tear, damage, or puncture.
  • Not using hand sanitizer on gloves.