About community face masks

The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is by staying home and avoiding close contact with others outside of your household.

When you do go out, you must use a community face mask (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 rideshares

A community face mask will not stop you from getting COVID-19, but will provide some protection to the wearer and to help protect others around you.

Medical masks (medical procedure face masks and respirators like N95 masks) should be reserved for use by health care workers and first responders.



When to wear a mask

To help combat the community spread of COVID-19, wearing a community mask is required in public spaces.

For specific mask alert level guidance see the COVID-19 Alert Levels.




Exemptions to wearing a mask

Some people are not able to wear masks for various reasons. It’s important to remember that these reasons may not always be visible to others. New Brunswickers should always treat each other with kindness, respect and understanding.

Examples of people who may be unable to wear a mask:

  • Children under the age of two;
  • People with a medical condition, including a mental health disorder, that prevents them from wearing a mask;
  • Anyone in situations that include a person who is deaf or hard of hearing who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate;
  • Performer or officiant who is performing activities that require vocalization (like talking or singing) at a faith gathering, wedding, funeral, social event, or arts and culture event;
  • People who are receiving medical treatment or receiving a service that requires it to be removed. In these cases, they may remove their mask only for the duration of the treatment or service only (masks must be worn at all other times in hospital and healthcare facilities)
  • As per WorkSafeNB’s guidance, face masks do not have to be worn where physical barriers are in place that protect people from potential exposure (e.g. plexiglass barrier). Workers for whom wearing a face mask would introduce a risk to the workers’ health and safety related to their work environment may use a face shield as a substitute to the face covering. More information is available here.

Note: between the ages of two and five, children may be able to wear a mask if supervised. This will depend on their ability to tolerate it as well as put it on and take it off. It is even more important that people who are unable to wear a mask practice physical distancing of staying two metres away from others, wash or sanitize hands frequently and get tested if unwell, even with mild symptoms. It is also recommended that people who are unable to wear a mask avoid, as much as possible, crowded places and plan to do errands during off-peak times when stores are less crowded, or have items delivered if possible.

Masks Exemptions

Your Physician may provide you with a medical exemption, however an exemption will not guarantee entry into an establishment or business. We recommend contacting the location beforehand to find out their policy towards people who are unable to wear masks.



When and How to Wear a mask or face covering




There are two categories of masks: medical and non-medical (or cloth face covering). These masks and face coverings can help stop us from unknowingly spreading viruses.

Wear a community face mask help stop the spread of COVID-19, especially if it’s not possible to consistently maintain a 2-metre physical distance from others.





Non-medical masks or face coverings should:

  • fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
  • maintain their shape after washing and drying
  • be made of at least three layers of tightly woven material (such as cotton or linen)
  • be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping


-      Understanding mask differences and recommendations for community use



Storing, cleaning and disposing a mask

If the face covering can be cleaned, you should:

  • put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine
  • wash with other items using a hot cycle with laundry detergent (no special soaps are needed), and dry thoroughly
  • wash your hands after putting the face covering into the laundry

Ensure to let it dry completely before wearing it again. You can include a cloth mask with other laundry.

Damaged and disposable masks should be put in a regular garbage bin that’s lined with a plastic bag. When emptying the bin, take care to not touch used masks or tissues with your hands.


Posters and awareness resources are available here