KITCHENER -- Waterloo regional council is considering a by-law that would make masks or face coverings mandatory inside businesses.

By the week of July 6, a staff report is expected to be presented for discussion on whether the by-law would go forward.

Many people already choose to wear masks in public, as recommended by Region of Waterloo Public Health.

Here are some things to know about wearing a non-medical mask in public.

When should you wear them?

Public health officials encourage people to wear non-medical masks whenever they can't maintain physical distancing.

A non-medical mask can be a tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 because it can help you contain your own droplets, which is how the virus spreads.

Officials stress, though, that it is not a replacement for other public health measures, like physical distancing, hand washing and not touching your face.

If the by-law went ahead, masks would be required inside businesses in Waterloo Region. This is already the case in neighbouring health unit Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH).

What to know about wearing a mask

Public health officials recommend that a mask be made of cloth or fabric, not plastic or other non-breathable materials.

WDGPH says that homemade cloth masks, scarves and bandanas are acceptable to wear, too.

They recommend masks fit snugly without gaps, but that they not impair a person's vision in any way.

A mask should be clean and dry before it's worn.

Officials also say you should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after it goes on and before and after it's taken off.

Hand sanitizer with a minimum 60 per cent alcohol base will also work.

A person's mask should be firmly secured over the nose and mouth so that the wearer doesn't need to touch their face to adjust it.

Even with a mask, the public is asked to maintain physical distance whenever possible.

Public health officials say a mask should be put in the wash after every use.

Who needs to wear a mask?

If a by-law were to pass in Waterloo Region, it's likely that most people would be required to wear a mask. That's already the case in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, where masks have been mandated for more than two weeks.

Officials currently say that children under two shouldn't wear a mask.

The same goes for anyone who can't remove the mask without help, has trouble breathing or is unconscious.

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WDGPH also says that people with a medical condition or those whose breathing would be inhibited are exempt from the order.