Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam wears a mask as she waits to answer questions as an update is provided during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam wears a mask as she waits to answer questions as an update is provided during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Third layer’s the charm: Canada’s top doctor unveils new face mask recommendations

World Health Organization recommended wearing filtered, three-layer masks as early as June 12

The country’s top doctor unveiled new recommendations Tuesday for non-medical masks, saying they should be made of at least three layers and stressing their importance as the country heads indoors for winter amid a surging COVID-19 case count.

Face masks should comprise two layers of tightly woven fabric such as cotton or linen, plus a third layer of a “filter-type fabric” such as polypropylene, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“We’re not necessarily saying throw out everything that you have,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at a news conference Tuesday.

“The fit is the most important thing,” she said, emphasizing a pinched nose and full coverage of nose and mouth, but also comfort and breathability.

In a departure from news conference habit, the country’s top politicians and doctors wore their masks except when speaking, underscoring the role of face coverage in battling the pandemic as temperatures drop.

“Because it’s winter, because we’re all going inside, we’re learning more about droplets and aerosols. It’s just another layer of protection,” Tam said in Ottawa.

The World Health Organization recommended wearing filtered, three-layer masks as early as June 12, but Tam said face coverings are an area of “evolving science.”

The mask memo came as Ontario reported a single-day record of 1,050 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and 14 new deaths due to the virus.

About 80 per cent of the new cases were in the hot spots of Toronto and the surrounding regions of Peel, Halton, York and Durham.

Despite the unprecedented number of daily cases, Premier Doug Ford said he will ease restrictions on the province’s hot spots, in contrast with Quebec’s recent extension of “red-zone” measures.

Ontario rolled out a new tiered system Tuesday that will determine when and to what extent coronavirus restrictions are placed on parts of the province, a move the government said will help fight the pandemic at a regional level.

Areas with the lowest case counts, positivity rates and community transmission levels will fall into a green category with the most permissive rules. The colour-coded system then moves upward through yellow, orange and red with increasingly strict measures, topped off by a grey “lockdown” level where the most stringent protocols would be implemented

The framework goes into effect on Saturday, allowing restrictions previously treated as hot spots including Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa to loosen up. The softer rules mean gyms and cinemas can reopen and indoor dining will resume — with capacity limits — following closures under “modified Stage 2” measures imposed Oct. 10.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 871 new COVID-19 infections and 34 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including five that occurred in the previous 24 hours.

The province, which last week prolonged red-zone restrictions until Nov. 23 for 12 of its 19 health regions, said the number of people in hospital rose by 27 to 526, and 85 people were in intensive care, a rise of four.

Governments have struggled to balance health priorities with economic woes and pandemic fatigue as the prospect of social isolation and uncertainty around vaccines adds a bleaker tint to the onset of winter.

On Monday, the federal Liberals tabled a bill that would extend the federal wage subsidy and stop a previously planned slide in the value of payments as concerns over small businesses’ survival prospects escalate.

The bill also creates a new commercial rent-relief program to provide aid directly to businesses. The Liberals’ last version relied on landlords to apply for help, which they didn’t do in great numbers.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is calling for the Liberals to put a pause on federal audits of small businesses hit hard by COVID-19.

He says too many small and medium-sized businesses are struggling to survive during the pandemic, and still have been hit by what he calls unfair audit requests from the Canada Revenue Agency.

Many small businesses, such as restaurants and in the tourism sector have been asking unsuccessfully for months for extra help through the federal wage-subsidy program to keep employees on payrolls, O’Toole says.

“And then the audit process. Can you imagine a small business holding on by a thread and having the tax collector descend on you with an audit? I think it’s horrible. It’s unfair,” O’Toole said during a morning press conference.

— with files from Shawn Jeffords and Jordan Press

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ecole H.J. Cody School. File Photo
Sylvan Lake high school temporarily moves to online classes

Over the weekend, H.J. Cody reported six positive cases of COVID-19

.
Alberta confirmed more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases Sunday

Central zone active cases slightly up

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Traffic crosses over the Lions Gate Bridge from North Vancouver into Vancouver on July 2, 2015. Motorists would have to pay a fee to drive into downtown Vancouver under the city's plan to slow climate change but one expert warns it could pose financial hardship for some. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver’s climate plan ‘first 10 steps in a journey of 10,000,’ says expert

Almost 40 per cent of Vancouver’s carbon pollution comes from vehicles

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
After COVID-related transplant delays, 16-year-old N.S. girl gets lung transplant

‘This is the difficult time now of seeing Tahlia in ICU hooked up to 15 IVs and sedated’

Britain's Princess Anne The Princess Royal, right, talks to NATO delegates from left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during a reception at Buckingham Palace, in London, as Nato leaders attend to mark 70 years of the alliance, Tuesday Dec. 3, 2019.  While NATO leaders are publicly professing unity as they gather for the London summit, several seem to have been caught in an unguarded exchange on camera apparently gossiping about U.S. President Donald Trump’s behaviour. In footage recorded during the Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seen standing in a huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain’s Princess Anne. (Yui Mok/Pool via AP)
Canada, Britain strike new trade, beating Brexit, incorporating expiring EU pact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British counterpart, Boris Johnson, announced the deal Saturday

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
An individual in Clearview school division (Stettler and region) has tested positive for COVID-19

Case affects students and staff at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary School, Stettler Elementary School, and Erskine School, officials say

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an announcement at the Ornamental Gardens in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Nix non-essential travel, stay home as much as possible as COVID 2nd wave surges: Trudeau

Trudeau was back outfront Rideau Cottage amid concerning COVID-19 projections from Dr. Theresa Tam

(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
School custodians ‘unsung’ heroes during pandemic

Schools have increased the sanitization of key, high-touch areas

Most Read