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

lite
Every year, the Maruk family puts up an amazing Christmas lights show

Display to run nightly starting around 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.

The Government of Alberta has identified 1,828 new cases and 15 new COVID-19-related deaths, which brings the provincial death toll to 590. (File photo)
Alberta identifies 1,828 new COVID-19 cases on Friday

Central zone has 1,251 active cases

Alberta RCMP. Black Press file photo.
Alberta RCMP enforces safe, sober driving this holiday season

‘Please plan ahead and find a safe means of transportation to and from your holiday destinations’

police
Alberta RCMP wants you to receive your parcels

Last year, in all of 2019, there were over 4,000 occurrences of mail theft within Alberta RCMP jurisdiction

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta now has 17,743 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Judge finds former Alberta Mountie not guilty of sexually assaulting colleague

Jason Andrew Tress, who is 34, was stationed in the northern Alberta community of Faust at the time of the alleged assault

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Alberta set to retire coal power by 2023, ahead of 2030 provincial deadline

In 2014, 55 per cent of Alberta’s electricity was produced from 18 coal-fired generators

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Lacombe Police and RCMP have charged four people and seized three loaded guns and a small amount of methamphetamine following a traffic stop on Dec. 2. (Photo contributed)
Lacombe Police and RCMP arrest four people after joint investigation

The operation resulted in multiple loaded weapons seized and 116 charges

Longtime central Alberta politician Judy Gordon has passed away. Photo courtesy of the City of Lacombe
Former Lacombe Mayor Judy Gordon passes away

Gordon also served as MLA for Lacombe-Stettler before retiring from politics in 2010

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Most Read