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Ontario recommends using face coverings if physical distancing a challenge

WATCH ABOVE: Premier Doug Ford speaks to reporters on Wednesday about wearing face coverings.

As the province begins to reopen, Premier Doug Ford says the government is recommending Ontarians use face coverings when out in public and physical distancing is a challenge amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We recommend that you wear a non-medical mask, or a face covering,” Ford said at a daily press briefing on Wednesday.

“As the chief medical officer of health has said, anything that covers your nose and mouth can help protect you and people around you,” he continued.

READ MORE: 390 new coronavirus cases, 43 deaths in Ontario as total cases reach 23,774

The government is also reminding people to adhere to public health measures already previously mentioned by health officials as the best defense against the virus.

Ford is urging Ontarians to continue to wash their hands, stay home if feeling ill, practise physical distancing by staying at least two metres apart, and continuing to work from home.

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He also said the guidance on social gatherings remains the same: No more than five people from outside of your household.

“We’re watching the trends like a hawk right now,” Ford said. “We’re watching the rate of the spread, we’re watching closely for any sudden surges or flare-ups.”

“And I want people to know, I want to be crystal clear, that I am fully prepared to take any action necessary. If we see things going in the wrong direction, we’ll be fully prepared, we won’t hesitate to roll things back if necessary.”

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Ford said there is still no date for Stage 2, as businesses in Stage 1 were permitted to reopen on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Non-medical masks now recommended for Canadians, officials say

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Earlier on Wednesday, federal public health officials also officially recommended that people wear non-medical masks and face coverings in public where physical distancing is a challenge.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health has released the following face covering recommendations:

  • Wear your face covering safely and snugly to cover your nose and mouth, without any gaps. Ensure your face covering is made of at least two layers of tightly woven material and can be cleaned multiple times without losing its shape.
  • Medical masks, such as surgical and N95 masks, should be reserved for use by health care workers, those providing direct care, first responders and individuals who are ill and must leave their home for essential reasons such as seeking medical care, picking up medication or groceries.
  • Face coverings should not be placed on or used by children under the age of two; anyone who has trouble breathing; and anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance.

The government also said for transit agencies, it is recommending the following measures to protect staff and riders as the province has already reopened.

  • Physical distancing of at least two metres by admitting fewer passengers and using physical markers between seats.
  • The use of face coverings, particularly when physical distancing is not feasible.
  • Ensuring the availability of alcohol-based hand rub upon entering and exiting the vehicle.
  • Implementing engineering controls like plexiglass windows between drivers and passengers.
  • Enhanced cleaning, particularly of high-touch surfaces.

“We highly, highly recommend that people wear masks. It protects themselves, and it protects other people around them,” Ford said.

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On Wednesday, Ontario reported 390 new cases of coronavirus bringing the total to 23,774 cases, and 43 more deaths were recorded as the total reached 1,962 deaths.