Your scarf is not a facemask — and other COVID-19 winter rules from Montreal Public Health

Dr. Mylène Drouin says scarves, neck tubes, turtle necks and gloves are not adequate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Mylène Drouin issues guidelines for public hygiene in the winter

Not all face coverings are equal, according to Montreal Public Health. (Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

With a fresh blanket of snow outside, Montreal's public health director is reminding the public that health guidelines for COVID-19 still apply — no matter the weather.

Dr. Mylène Drouin says scarves, neck tubes, turtlenecks and gloves are not adequate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"Having a scarf is not the same as having a mask," Drouin said at a news conference Wednesday.

"When going to the store or when on public transportation, it is important to wear a mask."

She said the same thing applies to winter gloves or mittens.

"When taking [your gloves off] at home or at the workplace, you [still] have to wash your hands."

Drouin said following the public health hygiene guidelines is still the best way to curb the spread of the virus.

She also reminded Montrealers that eating or drinking in public transit is not allowed, since it requires removing one's mask in a place where it's difficult to stay two metres away from other people.

"Less is more" for the holidays

With Christmas one month away, Drouin said the fewer people at a party the better, even though the province has authorized gatherings of up to 10 people during a four-day period.

Premier François Legault has asked Quebecers to isolate themselves for one week before and one week after the gathering period, from Dec. 24 to Dec. 27. Legault later said people should limit themsevles to two gatherings.

Drouin urged people to continue to respect distancing guidelines and to wear a mask — especially when around seniors or people who work in the health-care system.

She also tried to discourage people from getting tested as a precaution before get-togethers. She said it can clog up the testing system and doesn't guarantee you will be free of the virus at a party.

A negative test, she said, gives "a false sense of security, and of course [we need to] keep capacity for community transmission and outbreak."

The city of Montreal is hoping to draw people outdoors with public spaces adapted for winter use. (Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

City wants to get people outside this winter

At the same news conference, Mayor Valérie Plante said the city will create more outdoor spaces for Montrealers to enjoy during the winter months.

"We worked really hard […] during the summer to give more space and make sure Montrealers can move around in a very safe way," Plante said.

During the summer, the city designated a handful of streets as public health corridors.

In these neighbourhoods, the sidewalks were widened and additional terrasses were built to encourage Montrealers to shop locally and spend more time outdoors.

Plante said the city is looking to do something similar this winter — to get more people out of their homes and into the outdoor snow.

The goal will be to get people to "go outside, have a walk, maybe ski around or do a bit of snowshoeing."

The city is expected to unveil the details of its plans for winter on Thursday.

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