Along with the COVID-19 immunization program, Canadian provinces and territories have protective measures in place. When these personal protective measures are followed correctly and used together, these measures can help keep yourself and others safe.
While the safety measures differ depending on where you live, here are the most common personal protective measures you can take to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, Canada has put an immunization program in place to make COVID-19 vaccines free to anyone who chooses to receive them. These vaccines are administered through provincial/territorial programs, and help protect against COVID-19 and slow the spread of the virus.
Wear a mask
When your area has a mask mandate in effect, everyone who can must wear a face mask in public indoor settings or any place where physical distancing is a challenge. When interacting with members of your immediate household, you do not have to wear a mask unless you or a member of your household are in quarantine or isolation. The mask mandate may differ for specific people, situations, and areas. You can check with your local public health authority for specific mask rules in your area.
Wearing a face mask helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and can protect others around you. The virus can spread through respiratory droplets, which are droplets that are released when we talk, sneeze, cough, shout, and sing. When a person is infected with COVID-19, their respiratory droplets can infect other people if these droplets land on their mouths or noses, or if they are inhaled.
A mask acts as a barrier that can help stop respiratory droplets from spreading near other people. Masks work best when they are well-fitted and cover both your nose and mouth.
Wash your hands
Washing hands regularly helps stop the spread of COVID-19 and other germs. Germs can spread when you:
- Touch your face with unwashed hands
- Touch a contaminated surface or object with your hands
- Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into your hands
- Prepare or eat food with unwashed hands
Adapted from the Centre for Disease Control hand-washing information
Washing your hands can help eliminate these germs, which helps reduce the risk of you and other people from getting sick.
To wash your hands:
- Wet hands with running water
- Apply soap
- While your hands are out of the water, rub them together to cover all surfaces of your hands (including palms, back of hands, under nails, between fingers) for at least 20 seconds
- Rinse your hands well with running water
- Dry hands using a clean towel
- Turn off the tap using a towel
If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands. Rub the hand sanitizer all over the palms, backs and between the fingers on your hands until dry.
Please note: The terms social distancing and physical distancing have been used interchangeably during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we will be using physical distancing.
Physical distancing means keeping distance from one another and limiting activities outside of our households. Depending on the recommendations of your local public health authority, physical distancing may be maintaining at least a 1 or 2-metre distance (about 6 feet) between yourself and others.
The purpose of physical distancing is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting contact with people as much as possible. You don’t need to physically distance yourself from people in your immediate household unless they are in quarantine or isolation.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects
Although it is not certain that COVID-19 spreads through contact surfaces and objects, the Government of Canada recommends cleaning and disinfecting surfaces or objects people come in contact with frequently, which are the most likely to become contaminated with germs. For example, door handles or light switches. If there are traces of COVID-19 on these surfaces or objects, cleaning and disinfecting them can help deactivate the virus so it is no longer infectious.
Avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada
Travelling outside of Canada may put you at greater risk of getting COVID-19. Other countries may have lower vaccination rates or safety protocols that are different from those in your area, like no mask mandate. This could result in COVID-19 spreading more easily.
Additionally, travelling outside of Canada means that there is a higher chance you could come into contact with variants of COVID-19 that are not common in your area. These variants may be able to spread more easily or be more resistant to known vaccines. For these reasons, non-essential travel should be avoided.
When you are ready to travel, it is important to research the requirements for the area. This may include a check in form or proof of vaccination. As the world starts opening up again, these requirements may change.
Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
When coughing or sneezing, ensure that you do it into a tissue or the bend of your arm rather than into your hand or into the air. When coughs and sneezes are covered properly, there is less of a chance for the germs coming in contact with someone else. If you do use a tissue, make sure you dispose of it as soon as you can in a waste container. Afterwards, ensure that you wash your hands or sanitize.
Keep fresh air circulating when you are indoors
An outdoor setting is always better when interacting with other people during the pandemic. If you are with others indoors, it’s best to have good ventilation to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Good ventilation exchanges indoor air for outdoor air. If a room feels crowded, stuffy, or smelly, the room is not well-ventilated. To increase ventilation, you can open windows and doors, or if possible run a central air system such as an air conditioner or heat pump.
Information on COVID-19 safety & health protocols by province/territory
You can find information on safety protocols based on your province/territory from the list below.