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Masks are now mandatory in Yukon. Here are 8 things you should know

Masks are mandatory in the Yukon as of December 1.

Where you need to wear a mask, how to wash it, and what to do if your glasses fog up

Masks will be mandatory in Yukon hair salons, stores, faith gatherings, and other public indoor spaces as of December 1. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Masks are now mandatory in Yukon's indoor public places, as the territory tries to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The mask mandate was announced last month and came into effect on Tuesday, as case counts rise in the region. 

Wearing a mask can help protect others, by preventing the spread of droplets you make when sneezing, coughing or speaking, says Yukon health guidance. People who refuse to wear a mask could be fined up to $500.

Here are some common questions about when, where and how to wear a mask in Yukon.

1. Where do I have to wear a mask?

Yukon is requiring people wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

This includes places such as:

  • Shopping centres and stores;
  • Anywhere food and drink is served;
  • Hair salons and other personal care services;
  • Doctors offices;
  • Places of worship;
  • Fitness centres;
  • Movie theatres, art centres and concert halls;
  • Libraries; 
  • Service businesses like mechanics; 
  • Common areas in office buildings, courthouses, convention and community centres, hospitals, daycares, hotels and non-profits;
  • Common areas of Yukon University.

Masks are also required on public transportation, taxis, shuttles or ride-sharing vehicles. Children aged 10 and up are also required to wear masks on school buses and in common areas of schools.

Masks are also required in Yukon hospitals as of Nov. 26.

You do not have to wear a mask when participating in sports or fitness activities; eating or drinking in a public restaurant; or when you are in a private area of a long-term care home. You can also take off a mask when receiving health or personal care services that require your mask be removed. 

Masks were already required in airport buildings, some businesses and, recently, on Whitehorse city transit.

A woman walks by festive decorations in Montreal, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

2. Do kids have to wear a mask too?

Yes, but children under age five don't have to wear a mask. The Yukon government says putting face coverings on children younger than two could be a hazard.

Premier Sandy Silver said at Tuesday's COVID-19 update that the new mask rules will extend to Yukoners over the age of five, after saying last week they would apply to those over the age of two.

The premier said there are also exemptions for people with medical conditions which prevent them from wearing masks.

3. What kind of mask should I wear?

Masks can be store-bought or homemade, says the Yukon government. Face shields are not considered a substitute for a mask.

Health Canada now recommends a three-layer mask. Two of the layers should be made from tightly-layered cloth, such as fabric or linen.

The middle layer should be a filter-type fabric like non-woven polypropylene, which is used to make some cloth reusable shopping bags.

Health Canada has instructions for making masks here.

But if you only have a mask with two layers, that's still "better than no mask," said Dr. Amy Tan, a physician in Victoria, B.C., and a member of the group Masks 4 Canada. 

The Yukon government says three layers are preferable, although two-layered masks are effective.

4. How should a mask fit on my face?

The mask should cover your nose, mouth and chin, says guidance from the Yukon government.

Dr. Tan recommended a tight-fitting mask, with no gaping on the side.

You should be able to breath easily, according to Health Canada. The mask should be comfortable, fit securely to your head, and you shouldn't need to adjust it frequently.

"The fit is actually probably the most important thing," Dr. Tan told CBC's Yukon Morning.

"A tight-fitting mask is going to really help."

The Yukon government says you should not touch your mask while wearing it. 

Wash your hands before and after putting on your mask, or taking it off.

"If you do touch your mask or face, make sure you immediately wash your hands," says guidance on the Yukon government website.

Masks will be mandatory as of tomorrow in most indoor public places in the Yukon. Dr. Amy Tan, a family physician and palliative care physician in Victoria, B.C., spoke with Elyn Jones. 7:56

5. How often should I change my mask?

You can wear a mask for a few hours, said Dr. Tan, but wash your reusable mask after each use.

The Yukon government says reusable masks should be cleaned and changed often. It says to remove your mask if it gets damp or dirty.

Tan said a disposable mask should only be used once, and discarded at the end of the day.

A soggy or soiled mask could be less effective, said Tan. She recommended carrying a backup mask around.

6. How do I wash my mask?

Wash your reusable mask after every use, said Dr. Tan.

You can throw a mask in the washing machine in a laundry bag, she said.

You can also wash masks in the sink with soap and hot water and hang to dry.

The Yukon government says warmer water is best for cleaning masks. Make sure to dry the mask completely, it says.

7. How do I store my mask?

Dr. Tan said she keeps her mask in a plastic or paper bag, or a Tupperware container.

She suggests carrying a backup mask just in case.

8. I wear glasses. How do I stop them from fogging up?

Dr. Tan suggests wearing an adjustable nose bridge that allows you to bend the mask so it fits to your nose.

She said the mask should be higher up on your face, so your glasses sit on top of the mask.

"I find having a good, pinch-able nose adjustment is all I need," said Tan, who wears glasses herself.

With files from Yukon Morning

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