The North Bay Parry Sound is recommending, but not enforcing, the use of face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health unit officials say they recommend the use when physical distancing (a space of two metres, or six feet) cannot be maintained, especially in an indoor setting.

Dr. Jim Chirico, the medical officer of health says if worn properly, face coverings can protect others from your infectious droplets.

“A face covering does not replace physical distancing and other protective health measures such as hand washing, and isolating yourself when you have symptoms or have come in close contact with someone with COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19,” said Dr. Chirico. “I recommend using face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained, especially when in an indoor setting, on public transit, and when receiving essential or close-contact services.”

“At this time, we are not recommending mandating the use of face coverings district-wide. The Health Unit will continue to monitor local data and will reassess the situation if necessary,” added Chirico.

Officials say face coverings should not be worn by children under two, or by a person who has trouble breathing. If a person is unable to remove a face covering, they should not be wearing one.

“It is my hope that the use of facial coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic voluntarily becomes widespread and the social norm rather than being mandated,” Dr. Chirico explained. “If this does not occur in a timely manner, we will be asking the provincial government to issue a directive under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to ensure consistency throughout the province, rather than having health units and municipalities legislate the use of facial coverings.”

To learn more about face coverings, including how to wear, clean, and discard them, visit the health unit’s website.